U.S. housing starts pick up 2.8 percent to 946K in March

Nathan Andrada – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Home builders in the U.S. increased construction activity for the second consecutive month in March, although indicators continue to suggest a slumping market.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, housing starts climbed 2.8 percent in March to an annual pace of 946,000, boosted by rise in single- family homes, according to the Commerce Department report released Wednesday. February starts were revised higher to a 920,000 rate from an initial reading of 907,000.

Other trends, however, show that the recovery remains tentative. Housing starts declined 5.9 percent from the previous year. Building permits, a gauge of future construction, slid 2.4 percent in March from February to a 990,000 rate, representing the fourth decline in five months.

March housing starts and permits were both lower than forecast. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had predicted a gain in home starts to a 965,000 pace in March and permits to remain flat at a 1.01 million rate.

Multi-family homes construction, which includes apartments and condos, dropped 3.1 percent in March and was steady in February. That sector is typically volatile and usually does not reflect the market’s underlying demand.

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