US housing starts jump 8.2 pct in April

WASHINGTON - US housing starts and permits showed a surprisingly strong jump in April, signaling a glimmer of hope in the troubled housing market, government data showed Friday.

By (AFP)

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Published: Fri 16 May 2008, 8:49 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:35 PM

New home construction starts rose 8.2 percent from March to an annual rate of 1.032 million units, the Commerce Department said.

The jump is the strongest since January 2006 and sharply higher than analysts' consensus forecast for a cutback in April to 940,000 units.

Construction permits, an indicator of future activity in the housing sector, climbed a robust 4.9 percent in April to 978,000 units, soundly topping analyst expectations of 912,000 units.

For March, the Commerce Department revised higher housing starts to 954,000 units, from a prior estimate of 947,000, and construction permits to 932,000, from a 927,000-unit rate.

The two indicators in April were at their highest level since February. Housing starts had fallen in March to a 17-year low.

However, on a 12-month basis, April housing starts were down 30.6 percent and permits fell 34.3 percent.

Although US builders broke ground on more homes than expected in April, all of the additional building took place on multi-family homes. Starts on single-family homes fell to their lowest level in 17 years, the Commerce Department said.

New construction of single-family homes, a better and more stable indicator of new home trends, fell 1.7 percent to a 692,000-unit rate, the lowest level since January 1991.

Starts of homes for five or more families skyrocketed 40.5 percent to an annual rate of 326,000 units.

By region, starts fell only in the Northeast, by 12.7 percent. The Midwest saw the largest jump in starts, by 24.4 percent, followed by the West at 18.5 percent and the South at 3.6 percent.

Single-family building permits rose 4.0 percent to 646,000 units. In the Northeast, permits for single-family homes maintained last month's record low of 60,000. Permits in the South fell to the lowest level since June 1993.

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