Home construction rises - future still murky

By Blake Ellis, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- New home construction rose more than expected in January, while the number of building permits issued in the month dropped, according to a government report issued Wednesday.

Construction of new homes climbed to an annual rate of 591,000 during the month, up 2.8% from December's revised rate of 575,000, the Commerce Department said. This is an increase of 21.1% from the 488,000 rate in January 2009.

Economists surveyed by Briefing.com expected January housing starts to rise to an annual rate of 580,000.

"We're continuing to see signs of stabilization," said real estate analyst Mike Larson of Weiss Research. "We had this Olympic ski slope-looking plunge starting in 2005 and 2006, and it looks like we're almost getting to the bottom of that."

Larson said that housing starts picked up in January as the new home supply dwindled.

"All the excess inventory that had built up has been exhausted, and when the supply gets so lean, builders start constructing homes again," he said.

The number of building permits issued during January fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 621,000. That was 4.9% below the revised December rate of 653,000, but up 16.9% from the January 2009 rate of 531,000.

Economists had expected building permits would fall to 620,000.

The decline in permits and gain in housing starts were each led by activity in the multi-family sector: Multi-family building permits plummetted 26% while starts jumped 17.6%.

Meanwhile, single-family housing starts and building permits were both up last month. Single-family starts climbed 1.5% from December and permits edged up 0.4%.

Larson said that the increase in single-family activity was an encouraging sign of stabilization, but with such a large supply of existing homes, "nothing suggests a vigorous upturn."

"I think we're going to be treading water in this range for some time," he said. "We're going to be making small gains or losses throughout 2010, we're not going to be making new lows or rebounding." To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,408.54 -16.31 -0.10%
Nasdaq 4,095.52 9.29 0.23%
S&P 500 1,864.85 2.54 0.14%
Treasuries 2.72 0.08 3.19%
Data as of 1:54pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.15 0.00 0.00%
Facebook Inc 58.94 0.00 0.00%
General Electric Co 26.56 0.00 0.00%
Cisco Systems Inc 23.19 -0.02 -0.09%
Micron Technology In... 23.91 0.00 0.00%
Data as of Apr 17
Sponsors

Sections

General Mills has scrapped a controversial change to its fine print that some read as eliminating customers' right to sue the company. More

Obamacare sign ups hit 8 million, though final enrollment remains to be seen. More

Office for iPad move is a symbolic victory for Nadella's Microsoft, but the company is still weighed down by many of the same old issues. More

Schwinn, Trek and Cannondale are all iconic American bicycle brands. But none of them are made in the United States. More

As Detroit moves closer to reaching a bankruptcy deal, retired civilian workers are poised to be left worse off than firemen and police officers. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.