Housing Starts in U.S. Fall in March

Laura Kusisto and Ben Leubsdorf reported this week at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “U.S. housing starts declined in March, but not enough to signal a reversal from the long-term trend of improvement in new home construction.

Starts decreased 6.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.215 million from a month earlier, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

“The decline comes after an unusually strong winter, buoyed by temperate weather in most parts of the country. Single-family housing starts in February hit their highest level since October 2007.”

However, the Journal article indicated that, “Residential building permits, which can signal future home construction and tend to be a less volatile measure, rose 3.6% to an annual pace of 1.260 million last month and were up 17% compared with the same month last year.

“The permit numbers ‘should quash any concerns that home builders might be pulling back,’ said Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at home-tracker Trulia.”

This week’s article added that, “[T]he trend for the year so far is one of steady improvement. New home construction was up 8.1% in the first quarter from the same period in 2016. Permits in the first three months of 2017 jumped 10.4% from a year earlier.”

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