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Economy in Brief

Rise in Housing Starts Surprising
by Tom Moeller October 18, 2006

Housing starts in September rose for only the third month this year. The 5.9% increase to 1.772M units fully recovered all of the prior month's little revised 4.9% decline and easily beat Consensus expectations for a slight decline to 1.64M starts.

Starts nevertheless remained 21.8% below the peak this past January.

Single-family starts recovered 4.3% last month to 1.43M and recovered most of the prior month's 5.4% decline. Multi family starts were stronger and popped 12.7% after three consecutive months of sharp decline.

By region, single family housing starts rose everywhere except in the Northeast where starts fell 12.1% (-29.7% y/y). In the West single family starts inched up 0.9% m/m (-30.8% y/y) but in the South starts recovered 8.5% (-8.4% y/y). Single family starts in the Midwest also were higher by 3.9% (-33.0% y/y).

Building permits fell 6.3% to the lowest level since 2001. Permits to start singe family homes in addition fell hard by 6.0% (-32.1% y/y), also to the lowest since 2001.

How Resilient Is the Modern Economy to Energy Price Shocks? from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta can be found here.

Housing Starts (000s, AR) September August Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total 1,772 1,674 -17.9% 2,073 1,950 1,854
  Single-family 1,426 1,367 -20.3% 1,719 1,604 1,505
  Multi-family 346 307 -6.0% 354 345 349
Building Permits 1,619 1,727 -27.7% 2,159 2,058 1,888
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