New home construction surges 41%

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- New home construction skyrocketed 40.9% in April compared to last year, according to a government report released Tuesday.

Housing starts increased to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 672,000 last month, the Commerce Department said. That was a 5.8% rise over March 2010.

Economists were expecting housing starts to jump to 655,000.

New construction of single-family homes, the key sector of the housing market, rose 10.2% over the month to an annual rate of 593,000.

New construction of multi-family homes -- buildings with 5 or more units -- was 68,000.

April was the last month in which sales to first-time home buyers could qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $8,000. Earlier this year lawmakers extended the deadline through April 30 and added a new credit of up to $6,500 for some existing home owners who move.

"The increase in demand prompted by the tax credit has lifted construction," wrote Ian Shepherdson, economist at High Frequency Economics, in a research note.

"But the expiration of the credit ... has made homebuilders wary about continuing to add new homes during the summer," he said.

Building permits: That's probably why applications for building permits, a gauge of future construction activity, sank in April. Permits fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 606,000 last month, down 11.5% from a revised 685,000 in March.

Economists were expecting 680,000 permits. But despite this month's sharp drop, permits were still up 15.9% from April 2009.

"In the near-term the drop in permits clearly signals falling starts ahead," Shepherdson wrote. 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 18,232.02 -53.72 -0.29%
Nasdaq 5,089.36 -1.43 -0.03%
S&P 500 2,126.06 -4.76 -0.22%
Treasuries 2.22 0.03 1.37%
Data as of 12:16am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.75 0.02 0.12%
Apple Inc 132.54 1.15 0.88%
Hewlett-Packard Co 34.76 0.93 2.75%
AT&T Inc 34.71 -0.36 -1.03%
Microsoft Corp 46.90 0.00 0.00%
Data as of May 22
Sponsors

Sections

Malaysia Airlines is nearly finished with its tough restructuring plan -- which will include cutting about one-third of its workforce -- in its efforts to recover after two plane tragedies last year. More

The True Cost, a new documentary, chronicles the evils of the clothing industry and asks us to stop buying so much cheap stuff More

Google filed a patent for a toy that will have sensors and cameras, and can control connected devices. More

Sarah Kauss launched S'well to rid the world of plastic water bottles. In five years, she's sold 4 million of her stainless steel bottles. More