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--5 Things We Learned From February New Residential Construction Data
By Kevin Kastner
     WASHINGTON (MNI) - The following are the key points from the 
February new residential construction data released Friday by the 
Commerce Department: 
     - February housing starts fell by 7.0% to a 1.236 million rate, 
below the 1.287 million pace expected, but following a small upward 
revision to 1.329 million for the already-strong January data. As a 
result, the first quarter average stands at 1.283 million up from 1.256 
million in the fourth quarter. 
     - Permits posted a 5.7% decline to a 1.298 million rate after 
hitting a 10-year high in the previous month, while those permitted but 
not started fell 1.9%, suggesting starts could decline modestly in the 
coming months. The NAHB index slipped modestly in March, but remained 
     - Starts fell in the Northeast (-3.5%), South (-7.3%) and West 
(-12.9%) after large gains in January, but partially rebounded in the 
Midwest region (+7.6%). 
     - Single-family housing starts rose 2.9% in February, continuing 
their generally upward trend, but that was eclipsed by a 26.1% reversal 
in multi-family starts. Single-family building permits were down 0.6%, 
while multi-family permits were down 14.8%. 
     - Homes under construction were up 0.1% and completions rose 7.8%, 
both to new 10-year highs, so new home supply should see a bump up when 
that data is released on March 23. 
     ** MNI Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 **