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Economists Survey Raises 2021 CPI Forecast To 4.9%

--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 
calculation. 
     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 
remain strong. 
     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 
fell 6.4%. 
                                                   
     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 -$124.4 billion in the previous 
quarter due to much smaller goods and services and secondary income 
gaps, as well as a wider primary income surplus. 
     The current account gap was the smallest since the third quarter of 
2014 and now stands at 2.1% of GDP, down from 2.6% in the second quarter 
and the smallest since the second quarter of 2014. 
     ** MNI Washington Bureau (202) 371-2121 ** 
[TOPICS: MAUDS$,M$U$$$,MAUDR$]