WASHINGTON Oct 19 U.S. housing starts tumbled
to a 1-1/2-year low in September amid a steep decline in the
construction of multifamily homes, but a surge in the
construction of single-family units pointed to sustained
strength in the housing market.
Groundbreaking dropped 9.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted
annual pace of 1.05 million units, the lowest level since March
2015, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. August's starts
were revised up to a 1.15 million-unit pace from the previously
reported 1.14 million-unit rate.
Single-family home building, which accounts for the largest
share of the residential housing market, jumped 8.1 percent to a
783,000-unit pace in September, the highest level since
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts
rising to a 1.18 million-unit pace in September. Last month's
drop left the overall housing starts in the third quarter well
below their average for the second quarter.
That suggests residential construction remained a drag on
gross domestic product in the third quarter after subtracting
from output in the April-June period.
Housing starts for the volatile multi-family segment plunged
38.0 percent to a 264,000-unit pace in September. But with rents
rising at their fastest pace in 10 years, last month's drop is
likely to be temporary.
Overall home building activity is likely to rebound in the
coming months, as permits for future construction surged 6.3
percent in September. Single-family permits edged up 0.4 percent
last month. Building permits for multi-family units soared 16.8
percent in September.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)