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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Stay In The Cellar
by Tom Moeller  April 17, 2012

Housing starts unexpectedly returned to a five month low last month. Despite mild weather, the 5.8% decline (+10.3% y/y) left starts at 654,000 in March. Expectations had been for 700,000.

Lower starts of multi-family homes accounted for the decline in the total. They fell 16.9% (+9.7% y/y) following two months of strong increase. Starts of single-family homes slipped 0.2% m/m but rose 10.5% y/y. The performance amongst regions was mixed. Starts in the South fell 15.9% m/m. Elsewhere, starts rose by one-third in the Northeast but were little changed in the Midwest and West.

Building permits rose 4.5% m/m during March to 747,000. The nearly one-third y/y rise brought permits to the highest since September 2008. Single-family permits fell 3.5% (+17.9% y/y). Multi-family permits increased 20.8% and by 56.6% 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) Mar Feb Jan Y/Y % 2011 2010 2009
Total 654 694 714 10.3 611 585 554
 Single-Family 462 463 509 10.5 434 471 442
 Multi-Family 192 231 205 9.7 177 114 112
Starts By Region
 Northeast 89 67 73 45.9 68 72 61
 Midwest 102 101 103 25.9 103 97 95
 South 334 397 400 -0.9 309 296 281
 West 129 129 138 13.2 131 120 117
Building Permits 747 715 682 30.1 606 603 582
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