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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Firm
by Tom Moeller  November 17, 2011

In a somewhat confusing housing starts report, the latest indication is that activity continues to improve. The level of starts overall slipped to 628,000 (AR) during October from 630,000 in September, revised down from 658,000 reported last month. Offsetting this negative tone, the overall trend in starts continued to gradually improve from the lows of Q4'10 and the latest beat expectations for 610,000 units.

Starts of single-family homes rose to 430,000 units from a downwardly revised 414,000 in September. The increase pulled the level 20% above the recession low but starts still were down from the incentive-fueled levels of early last year. Starts in the multi-family sector fell moderately to 198,000 following their September jump, which also was downwardly revised. By region, housing starts in the Northeast, Midwest & South improved last month, offset by deterioration in the West.

Building permits jumped 10.9% last month (17.7% y/y) to the highest level since March 2010. Single-family starts rose 5.1% and were up 6.6% y/y while multi-family permits jumped nearly one-quarter m/m and were roughly one-half higher y/y.

The housing starts figures can be found in Haver's USECON database. The expectations figure is contained in the AS1REPNA database.

Housing Starts (000s, SAAR) Oct Sep Aug Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Total 628 630 585 16.5 585 554 900
 Single-Family 430 414 425 -0.9 471 442 616
 Multi-Family 198 216 160 88.6 114 112 284
Starts By Region
 Northeast 68 58 57 -17.1 72 61 120
 Midwest 102 93 86 7.4 98 95 134
 South 326 321 301 23.0 296 281 451
 West 132 158 141 36.1 120 117 195
Building Permits 653 589 625 17.7 603 582 896
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