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--April Building Permits Rises 0.6% to 1.296m SAAR
--Initial Jobless Claims Fall 16,000 to 212,000 in May 11 Week
By Kevin Kastner and Harrison Clarke
WASHINGTON (MNI) - The pace of housing starts rose by 5.7% to a
1.235 million seasonally adjusted annual rate in April, above
expectations for a 1.200 million rate according to an MNI survey of
analysts and a 1.209 million rate according to the Bloomberg consensus,
data reported by the Commerce Department Thursday morning indicated.
Also released at the same time, the level of initial claims fell by
16,000 to 212,000 in the May 11 week, below the 220,000 level expected
by both MNI and Bloomberg and returning to trend after sharp movements
in recent weeks.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the data released Friday:
- Housing starts rose 84.6% in the Northeast and 42.0% in the
Midwest, more than recovering declines in the previous month. Starts
fell by 5.7% in the relatively large South region, and were down 5.5% in
the West, providing some offset.
- Single-family housing starts rose by 6.2% in April after a 1.5%
increase in the previous month, while multi-family starts were up 4.7%
in April, based on an MNI calculation. This followed gains in both
categories in the previous month.
- Building permits rose by 0.6% in the month to a 1.296 million
rate after a 0.2% decline to 1.288 million in March. However,
single-family permits fell by 4.2% to a 782,000 annual rate, the slowest
since November 2016. Multi-family permits rose by 8.9%. Homes permitted
but not started were up 2.6% in April, suggesting housing starts could
rise in the near future, though the entire gain was in the multi-family
- Homes under construction fell by 0.9% in April, while completions
were down 1.4%, both following March declines. The fall-off in starts
and permits starting in fourth quarter of 2018 should continue to cut
into the pace of completions more forcefully in the coming months.
- The April starts pace was above the first quarter average of
1.203 million after revisions are included. The April rate for permits
was just below the 1.299 million first quarter average. Annual revisions
back to 2014 were included in the data.
- The four-week moving average for initial jobless claims rose by
4,750 to 225,000 in the May 11 week due to the decades-low level of
193,000 in the April 13 week dropping out of the equation. After four
straight increases, the average is likely to stabilize or decline in the
coming weeks as elevated levels in the April 20 through May 4 weeks roll
- Unadjusted claims fell by 16,344 to 187,689, putting the current
week's level below the 195,214 level in the comparable week a year
earlier after three weeks above it. As noted in an MNI analysis
published Wednesday, the May-July period is often impacted by seasonal
adjustment timing issues.
- The level of continuing claims fell by 28,000 to 1.660 million in
the May 4 week after rising by 17,000 in the previous week. Continuing
claims have remained solidly below their year-ago levels.
** MNI Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 **