WASHINGTON Dec 19 U.S. permits for future home
construction set their fastest pace in nearly 4-1/2 years in
November, pointing to underlying strength in the housing market,
even as starts dropped after three straight months of strong
The Commerce Department said on Wednesday building permits
increased 3.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of
899,000 units, the highest since July 2008.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected permits, which
lead starts by at least a month to rise to an 875,000-unit pace
last month from 868,000 units in October.
Groundbreaking fell 3.0 percent to an 861,000-unit pace,
worse than economists' expectations for a pullback to 873,000
units. October's starts were revised down to show an
888,000-unit pace instead of the previously reported 894,000
The step back in homebuilding in November followed three
straight months of solid gains, and reflected a 5.2 percent drop
in the No rtheast, which was slammed by Superstorm Sandy i n late
October. S tarts also tumbled 19.2 percent in the West.
The housing market has regained some footing after a
historic collapse that pushed the economy into its worst
recession since the Great Depression.
That firming trend was reinforced by a report on Tuesday
showing builders' confidence in the market for new single family
homes rose this month to its highest level in more than 6-1/2
Homebuilding is expected to add to gross domestic product
growth this year for the first time since 2005.
Last month, groundbreaking for single-family homes, the
largest segment of the market, fell 4.1 percent to a
565,000-unit pace. Starts for multi-family homes slipped 1.0
percent to a 296,00-unit rate.
Permits to build single-family homes dipped 0.2 percent last
month to a 565,000-unit pace. Permits for multi-family homes
increased 10.6 percent to a 334,000-unit rate.