By Harriet Torry and Sarah Chaney
WASHINGTON--Construction of new U.S. homes fell in January, although building permits for new construction hit a 13-year high, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Here are key takeaways from the report:
--Housing starts, a measure of U.S. homebuilding, decreased 3.6% in January from December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.567 million. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected starts would fall by 11.7% to an annual pace of 1.42 million.
--Residential permits, which can be a bellwether for future home construction, rose 9.2% from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.551 million. That was the highest level since March 2007. Economists estimated they rose 1% to 1.43 million permits.
-Monthly housing starts data are volatile and are often revised. January's decrease in starts came with a margin of error of 13.3 percentage points. Housing starts in December were 1.626 million, revised up from the previous estimate of 1.608 million.
--Starts were up 21.4% from January 2019, and building permits rose 17.9% from the same month last year.
-Other indicators from the housing sector have been relatively solid recently. A measure of U.S. home-builder confidence eased for the second-straight month in February, to 74 from 75 in January, but remained near a two-decade high, the National Association of Homebuilders said Tuesday.
The Commerce report can be found at http://www.census.gov/construction/nrc/pdf/newresconst.pdf
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 19, 2020 08:45 ET (13:45 GMT)Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.