US hous­ing starts re­bounded in June

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

US home­build­ing re­bounded more than ex­pected in June af­ter de­clin­ing for three straight months, but con­struc­tion ac­tiv­ity re­mains con­strained by ris­ing lum­ber prices and la­bor and land short­ages.

Hous­ing starts jumped 8.3 per­cent to a sea­son­ally ad­justed an­nual rate of 1.22 mil­lion units, the high­est level since Fe­bru­ary, as both sin­gle-fam­ily and mul­ti­fam­ily con­struc­tion in­creased, the Com­merce De­part­ment said yes­ter­day. May’s sales pace was re­vised up to 1.12 mil­lion units from the pre­vi­ously re­ported 1.09 mil­lion units.

Econ­o­mists polled by Reuters had fore­cast ground­break­ing ac­tiv­ity ris­ing to a rate of 1.16 mil­lion units last month. Home­build­ing rose 2.1 per­cent on a yearon-year ba­sis.

De­spite the bounce­back, home­build­ing has lost mo­men­tum af­ter strong gains in both the fourth and first quar­ters. Econ­o­mists blame the slow­down on sup­ply bot­tle­necks.

A sur­vey on Tues­day showed con­fi­dence among home­builders hit an eight-month low in July amid com­plaints about high lum­ber prices and short­ages of build­ing lots and la­bor. Lum­ber prices have surged af­ter the gov­ern­ment in April im­posed an­ti­sub­sidy du­ties on im­ports of Cana­dian soft­wood lum­ber. The dol­lar was trad­ing slightly higher against a bas­ket of cur­ren­cies, while prices for US gov­ern­ment bonds fell.

Sin­gle-fam­ily home­build­ing, which ac­counts for the largest share of the res­i­den­tial hous­ing­mar­ket, surged 6.3 per­cent to an 849,000 unit-pace last month, also the high­est level since Fe­bru­ary. Sin­gle-fam­ily con­struc­tion has lost ground since vault­ing to a near 9-1/2-year high in Fe­bru­ary, de­spite strong de­mand for hous­ing.

Sin­gle-fam­ily starts in­creased 9.3 per­cent in the Northeast and but fell 3.6 per­cent in the Mid­west. They climbed 7.2 per­cent in the South, where more than half of new home­build­ing oc­curs, and ad­vanced 10.6 per­cent in the West to their high­est level since last Oc­to­ber.

Starts for the volatile multi-fam­ily hous­ing seg­ment in­creased 13.3 per­cent to a 366,000 unit-pace, af­ter five straight months of de­clines. Con­struc­tion had slowed amid a jump in multi-fam­ily homes com­ing on the mar­ket. Build­ing per­mits last month shot up 7.4 per­cent to a 1.25 mil­lion-unit rate, the high­est level since March. Sin­gle-fam­ily home per­mits rose 4.1 per­cent af­ter three straight months of de­clines. Per­mits for the con­struc­tion of multi-fam­ily homes surged 13.9 per­cent in June to a five-month high. Build­ing com­ple­tions surged 5.2 per­cent to their high­est level since Novem­ber 2016.—Reuters

—AP

Builders work on the roof of a home un­der con­struc­tion at a hous­ing plan in Jack­son Town­ship, Butler County, Pa. The Com­merce De­part­ment re­ported on US home con­struc­tion in June.

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