U.S. home con­struc­tion fell 9 per­cent in Septem­ber

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Martin Crutsinger AP Eco­nom­ics Writer

WASHINGTON» Home­builders pulled back on con­struc­tion for a sec­ond straight month in Septem­ber, with a plunge in apart­ments off­set­ting gains in sin­gle-fam­ily homes. Build­ing ac­tiv­ity was weak in all parts of the coun­try ex­cept the Mid­west.

Con­struc­tion tum­bled 9 per­cent in Septem­ber to a sea­son­ally ad­justed an­nual rate of 1.05 mil­lion units, the Com­merce Depart­ment re­ported Wed­nes­day. It was the slow­est pace in 18 months. Con­struc­tion had fallen 5.6 per­cent in Au­gust.

The weak­ness last month re­flected a 38 per­cent drop in con­struc­tion of apart­ments, which over­shad­owed an 8.1 per­cent rise in sin­gle-fam­ily con­struc­tion.

De­spite the two months of de­clines, home con­struc­tion has been one of the bright spots in the econ­omy this year. Builders have been scram­bling to keep up with ris­ing de­mand amid con­tin­ued strong job gains and low mort­gage rates.

The Septem­ber per­for­mance

was weaker than ex­pected.

An­a­lysts had been fore­cast­ing a re­bound.

Ap­pli­ca­tions for build­ing per­mits, a good sign of fu­ture ac­tiv­ity, posted

an in­crease of 6.3 per­cent in Septem­ber. It was the big­gest one-month gain since last Novem­ber, push­ing ac­tiv­ity to an an­nual rate of 1.22 mil­lion


By re­gion of the coun­try, con­struc­tion starts rose 6.6 per­cent in the Mid­west, the only re­gion show­ing a gain. Con­struc­tion fell 31.5 per­cent in the North­west, 15.6 per­cent in the South and 4.4 per­cent in the West.

A sur­vey of builder sen­ti­ment on Tues­day

showed that builders’ con­fi­dence about the fu­ture eased back a bit this month af­ter surg­ing to the high­est level in nearly a year in Septem­ber.

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