Housing Starts Rebound 2% In March Following Steep February Decline

MarketWatch Pulse

Construction on new U.S. homes rebounded a bit in March after plunging due to unseasonably cold weather in February. Housing starts rose to an annual rate of 926,000 in March from a revised 908,000 in February, the government said Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected starts to total a seasonally adjusted 1.04 million. The drop in February was not as bad as first reported. Sales fell a revised 15.3% to 908,000 in February compared with the initial estimate of a drop of 17% to 897,000. New construction in the Northeast rebounded a record 114.9% in March after hitting the lowest rate since 2009 in the prior month. Starts also rebounded 31.3% in the Midwest, according to Commerce Department data. Meanwhile, permits for new construction, a sign of future demand, fell 5.7% to an annual rate of 1.04 million from February's upwardly revised level of 1.10 million. This follows a 4% gain in February. Permits of single family homes were up 2.1% in March but permits of apartments slumped 15.9%, partially reversing a 20% gain in the prior month.

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