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--November Building Permits Down 1.4% To 1.298 Mln SAAR, Still Strong
--3Q Current Account -$100.6b vs -$124.4b in 2Q; Smallest Since 3Q 2014
By Kevin Kastner, Sara Haire and Holly Stokes
WASHINGTON (MNI) - The pace of housing starts posted a surprise
3.3% gain to a 1.297 million seasonally adjusted annual rate in
November, well ahead of expectations for a 1.250 million pace and adding
to the post-hurricane October surge, data reported by the Commerce
Department Tuesday morning showed.
This jump put starts at their strongest pace since October 2016.
There were mixed revisions to the previous two months.
Housing starts jumped 11.1% in the South, adding to the
post-hurricane rebound in October and bringing the pace in the region to
691,000, the strongest since August 2007.
Starts rose 19.0% in the West region, but fell by 39.6% in the
Northeast and by 12.9% in the Midwest.
Housing starts of single-family homes rose by 5.3% in November,
adding to a 6.1% rise in October. The rate of single-family starts, at
930,000, was the strongest since September 2007. Starts of multi-family
homes fell by 1.6% after a 14.1% October increase, based on an MNI
The pace of unadjusted starts stands 12.1% above their year ago,
while the NAHB index for December surged to a reading of 74 from 69 in
November when it was reported on Monday, suggesting home building should
Housing starts averaged 1.277 million through the first two months
of the fourth quarter compared with the 1.172 million third quarter
average, a positive for residential fixed investment in the quarter.
Building permits fell 1.4% in the month, but homes permitted but
not started rose 0.6%, so starts could see further increases in the near
future. Single-family permits were up 1.4% while multi-family permits
Housing completions fell by 6.1% to a 1.116 million annual rate.
However, homes under construction rose 1.0% in November due to the
recent strong gains in starts, the outlook for new home supply in the
next few months is sharply positive.
Also released on Tuesday, the third quarter current account deficit
narrowed sharply to -$100.6 billion from -$124.4 billion in the previous
quarter due to much smaller goods and services and secondary income
gaps, as well as a wider primary income surplus.
The current account gap was the smallest since the third quarter of
2014 and now stands at 2.1% of GDP, down from 2.6% in the second quarter
and the smallest since the second quarter of 2014.
** MNI Washington Bureau (202) 371-2121 **