U.S. Home Building Fell in February
Mar 19, 2003
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Home-building activity in the U.S. fell more than in February, but still remained at a fairly high level.U.S. housing starts declined 11% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.622 million, the lowest level since last April, the Commerce Department said. January housing starts were also revised downward as a 0.1 percent fall to a 1.822 million annual rate from the 0.2-percent rise to a 1.85 million annual rate previously reported.The figures were worse than expected.

A Dow Jones Newswires-CNBC poll of economists predicted housing starts would fall by 7 percent to a 1.72 million annual rate.Despite the February fall in housing starts, it likely doesn't signal a long- term decline in the housing market. With interest rates hitting recent record lows, it is expected that housing will remain strong for the foreseeable future despite weakness in the rest of the U.S. economy.

The U.S. housing market has remained strong for the past several years, defying analysts' expectations as it weathered the recent economic recession.In fact, the recent report showed that building permits, an indicator of future building activity, rose by 0.4 percent in February to a 1.786 million annual rate after falling by 5.7 percent in January. Multifamily permits, or permits for apartment buildings, jumped by 37.9 percent, offsetting a 6.8% decline in permits for single- family starts.Single-family starts fell by 13.7 percent to a 1.295 million annual rate in February after rising by 2.5 percent in January. Starts on multifamily units increased by 5.7 percent to a 297,000 annual rate.Starts fell in all regions except the Northeast, where they were unchanged. (Dow Jones)

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