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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Rise
by Tom Moeller  February 16, 2012

New home building is improving moderately. Housing starts rose last month by 1.5% (9.9% y/y) to 699,000 from a revised 689,000 in December, initially reported as 657,000. Expectations had been for 675,000 starts in January. Starts in the South rose the sharpest (26.8% y/y) while starts out West also improved (16.5% y/y). In the Northeast starts ticked up m/m but remained down 27.7% y/y and starts in the Midwest fell sharply (-11.3% y/y).

An 8.5% rise in starts of multi-family homes fueled last month's total increase. Multi-family increased 8.5% (-4.0% y/y) to 191,000. Starts of single-family homes fell 1.0% to 508,000 but still were up 16.2% y/y.

Building permits rose minimally m/m during January to 676,000 but still increased 19.0% y/y. Permits remained the highest since October 2008. Single-family permits rose 0.9% (6.2% y/y). Multi-family permits ticked up 0.4% and by roughly one-half y/y.

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

Mortgage Prepayment: An Avenue Foreclosed? from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is available here.

Housing Starts (000s, SAAR) Jan Dec Nov Y/Y % 2011 2010 2009
Total 699 689 702 9.9 611 585 554
 Single-Family 508 513 458 16.2 434 471 442
 Multi-Family 191 176 244 -4.0 177 114 112
Starts By Region
 Northeast 68 63 96 -27.7 68 72 61
 Midwest 102 172 96 -11.3 103 97 95
 South 388 328 343 26.8 309 296 281
 West 141 126 167 16.5 131 120 117
Building Permits 676 671 680 19.0 606 603 582
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