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Housing starts in the U.S. rose 5.1% in October

The West, with a 16.5% drop, was the only region without an increase in construction of single-family homes. One analyst says the overall gain is a sign that numbers will be good the rest of the year.

November 18, 2011|By Alejandro Lazo, Los Angeles Times
  • Single-family housing starts were up 17.2% in the Northeast, 9.7% in the Midwest and 1.6% in the South. Above, two new housing developments in Canonsburg, Pa.
Single-family housing starts were up 17.2% in the Northeast, 9.7% in the… (Gene J. Puskar, Associated…)

Construction of single-family homes picked up nationally last month but not in the West.

Single-family homes were started in October at an annual rate of 434,000, a 5.1% increase over the previous month, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

The report follows news of improved builder sentiment released the day before, with an index measuring builder confidence reaching its highest level since May 2010. Economists called the jump in new single-family-home starts a positive sign, as the nation's beleaguered real estate market was at least showing life.

"This was a good report," Patrick Newport, U.S. economist with IHS Global Insight, wrote in a note to clients Thursday. "It has supporting evidence that the single-family market is finally getting off the mat and that the multifamily segment is continuing to make small strides, and that we should expect good housing starts numbers the rest of this year."

The West was the only region that didn't see an increase, falling 16.5%. Single-family housing starts were up 17.2% in the Northeast, 9.7% in the Midwest and 1.6% in the South.

Overall housing starts — including the volatile apartment building sector — fell 0.3% in October from September, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 628,000. The decline was attributed to a drop in apartment building construction.

Permits issued, another measure of housing activity considered less volatile than starts, also showed improvement last month. New permits in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 653,000, 10.9% above September and 17.7% above October 2010.

alejandro.lazo@latimes.com

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