Housing Starts a touch better as crucial spring selling season just ahead

Weather impacted Feb Housing Starts totaled 575k annualized, 5k above estimates but down from 611k in Jan which was revised up by 20k. Permits totaled 612k, 11k above expectations but down from 622k in Jan. With both starts and permits, single family and multi family categories fell. Single family construction fell in the Northeast and South but rose in the Midwest and West. Weather notwithstanding, builders have been getting ready for the spring selling season and the last hope, for now, for people to take advantage of the upcoming expiration of the home buying tax credit while mortgage rates remain historically low. So, from an inventory perspective on one hand we want lower starts but on the other, builders have boosted GDP in the hopes that the buyers come out for new homes rather than existing ones. The housing stimulus party is about to end so we’ll see what gets squeezed in while it still lasts and what kind of hangover we see after.

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