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U.S. Housing Starts Down 3.6% in January

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


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 19, 2020 08:45 ET (13:45 GMT)

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