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Economic Watch: Housing Starts Increase While Consumer Confidence Drops

August 16, 2013

By Evan Lockridge

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U.S. housing starts in July jumped 5.9% in July from the month before due to strength in volatile multifamily construction.

The Commerce Department reports the overall annual rate increased to 896,000 following an upwardly revised June rate of 846,000.

Overall home starts in July increased despite a drop in single-family units.
Overall home starts in July increased despite a drop in single-family units.

Single-family home starts fell 2.2% from June to its lowest rate since last November while multifamily unit starts increased 26%. For the year to date, single-family home starts are up 24% from the level from the same time in 2012.

In July, housing starts made their biggest jump in the Northeast, up 40.2% from June, 25.4% in the Midwest and 7.2% in the West. It fell 7% in the South.

Also, an indicator of future building activity, new building permits issued in July, increased 2.7% in July from June for an annual rate of 943,000. Permits in July were up all four regions of the U.S., led by a 7.1% jump in the West. Permits were up 2.8% in the Midwest, 1.1% in the South and 1% in the Northeast.

The news follows a report Thursday from the National Association of Homebuilders that homebuilder confidence in the residential construction market was the best in almost eight-years.

While consumer are no doubt more drawn to the housing market than they have been in recent years, the latest snapshot of how they feel about the economy is not as good this month as it was in July

Consumer confidence fell this month after hitting a six-year high in July. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment fell to 80 from 85.1 in July, which was the highest since July 2007. The median projection of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for little change but the decline this month was the biggest since December.

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