WASHINGTON, June 17 U.S. housing starts and
building permits fell more than expected in May, suggesting the
housing recovery will likely remain slow for a while.
Groundbreaking for homes fell 6.5 percent to a seasonally
adjusted annual pace of 1 million units, the Commerce Department
said on Tuesday.
March's starts were revised down to show a 12.7 percent
increase instead of the previously reported 13.2 percent rise.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast starts slipping to a
1.03 million-unit rate last month.
Housing is struggling to regain momentum after a run-up in
mortgage rates and hefty increases in prices stifled demand. A
shortage of properties has also weighed on the sector.
Groundbreaking for single-family homes, the largest part of
the market, fell 5.9 percent in May to a 625,000-unit pace,
while starts for the volatile multi-family homes segment
decreased 7.6 percent to a 376,000-unit rate.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said last month there was
a risk a protracted housing slowdown could undermine the
Permits to build homes declined 6.4 percent to a
991,000-unit pace in May, pulling back from the 1.06 million
units touched in April. Economists had expected permits to dip
to a 1.05-million unit pace.
Permits for single-family homes rose 3.7 percent to a
619,000 unit-pace. They continue to lag groundbreaking,
suggesting single-family starts could fall in the months ahead.
A survey on Monday showed confidence among single-family
home builders increased in June, but fell short of reaching the
threshold considered favorable for building conditions.
Permits for multi-family housing tumbled 19.5 percent to a
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)