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U.S. Housing Starts Slip in August

By Xavier Fontdegloria

 

Construction of new homes in the U.S. fell in August, breaking a streak of three straight months of rises, data from the Commerce Department showed Thursday. Here are the main takeaways from the report:

--Housing starts, a measure of U.S. homebuilding, decreased by 5.1% in August compared with July, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.416 million. This is below a The Wall Street Journal poll of economists, who expected starts to dip by 3.1%, to an annual pace of 1.45 million.

--The current level of starts is below the February's pre-coronavirus annual rate of 1.57 million but 2.8% higher if compared with the same month a year earlier.

--In July, housing starts amounted to a downwardly revised 1.492 million from an earlier estimate of 1.496 million.

--Monthly housing starts data are volatile and are often revised. August's figures came with a margin of error of 9.6 percentage points.

--Residential permits, which can be a bellwether for future home construction, decreased 0.9% in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.470 million. The figure also missed economists' forecasts of a 0.3% increase to an annual pace of 1.50 million.

--August's U.S. housing starts report contradicts the increase of the survey of the National Association of Homebuilders, which showed a rise of confidence in the single-family housing market. The index improved in August for a fifth straight month and hit a new record high in the 35-year history of the series, data showed.

 

Write to Xavier Fontdegloria at xavier.fontdegloria@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 17, 2020 08:56 ET (12:56 GMT)

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