U.S. housing starts increased 3.4 percent in September 2005, defying forecasts for a slowdown in construction following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The Commerce Department said housing starts increased to a 2.1-million-unit annual rate in September, as construction on both single-family and multifamily units rose. The rate outpaced August's upwardly revised 2.04 million unit rate, which was originally reported at 2.01 million units.
Economists had expected starts to slow to a 1.970 million unit annual pace, saying activity likely fell after the storms disrupted construction in the Gulf Coast region.
The Commerce Department said the hurricanes had a minimal impact on housing starts in September. "It continues to defy all the expectations of doom in the housing market," said Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wachovia Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. "Demand for housing still remains quite strong and this year will be a record year for single-family construction."
Total single-family housing starts increased 2.6 percent to a 1.75 million unit rate while multifamily starts soared 7.8 percent to a 361,000 unit pace in September.
Housing starts rose 6.9 percent in the U.S. South and 1.9 percent in the Midwest and held unchanged in the Northeast and West. (Reuters)
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