Last Update: 16-Apr-15 08:58 ET
- Housing starts increased 2.0% in March to 926,000 from an upwardly revised 908,000 (from 897,000) in February. The Briefing.com Consensus expected housing starts to increase to 1.045 mln.
- In February, housing starts dropped 15.3% from 1.072 mln in January and fell below 1.00 mln for the first time since August 2014. At the time, the collapse in starts was blamed on extreme inclement weather conditions that impacted the Northeast and the Midwest.
- Going by the weather theory, starts should have rebounded in those two areas of the country, and stability in the South and West should have brought total starts back to January levels.
- The Northeast did return to January levels, as expected. However, the rebound in the Midwest was poor and remained well below previous trends.
- Furthermore, starts in the unaffected West (-19.3%) and South (-3.5%) fell to levels not seen since the first half of 2014.
- Altogether, the trends in the housing market point to lackluster production for economic reasons as opposed to a one-time exogenous shock.
- Single-family starts increased 4.4% in March to 618,000 from 592,000 in February. Excluding February, that was the worst month of new single-family construction since only 593,000 were started in June 2014.
- Multifamily starts declined 2.5% to 308,000 in March from 316,000 in February.
- The number of homes currently under construction increased 0.6% to 842,000 in March from 837,000 in February. All of the gain came from the relatively cheaper per unit multifamily sector, which means that overall residential construction spending growth likely softened from February levels.
- The lackluster rebound in March housing starts shows that the decline in February was not completely due to weather-related effects.