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April housing starts, permits drop

Report signals further cooling of once-hot real estate market

May 16, 2006


The Commerce Department said April housing starts fell 7.4 percent to a 1.849 million unit annual pace, the lowest level since November 2004, from an upwardly revised 2.00 million unit rate in March.

Economists had expected rising interest rates and growing supply to slow housing starts to a 1.95 million unit pace in April from an originally reported 1.96 million unit pace in March.

Construction of single-family homes fell 5.6 percent to a 1.54 million unit pace, the third straight monthly decline. Groundbreaking on multifamily units tumbled 15.1 percent, reversing course after March's 15.6 percent jump.

Permits for future groundbreaking, an indicator of builder confidence, dropped 5.4 percent in April to a 1.98 million unit pace. That was the biggest decline in nearly two years and brought permits to their lowest since February 2004. It was also far short of economists' expectations for a 2.045 million unit pace in permitting last month.
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