WASHINGTON — The pace of housing starts posted a surprise 3.3% gain to a 1.297 million seasonally adjusted annual rate in November, well ahead of expectations for a 1.250 million pace and adding to the post-hurricane October surge, data reported by the Commerce Department Tuesday morning showed.
This jump put starts at their strongest pace since October 2016. There were mixed revisions to the previous two months.
Housing starts jumped 11.1% in the South, adding to the post-hurricane rebound in October and bringing the pace in the region to 691,000, the strongest since August 2007.
Starts rose 19.0% in the West region, but fell by 39.6% in the Northeast and by 12.9% in the Midwest.
Housing starts of single-family homes rose by 5.3% in November, adding to a 6.1% rise in October. The rate of single-family starts, at 930,000, was the strongest since September 2007. Starts of multi-family homes fell by 1.6% after a 14.1% October increase, based on an MNI calculation.
The pace of unadjusted starts stands 12.1% above their year ago, while the NAHB index for December surged to a reading of 74 from 69 in November when it was reported on Monday, suggesting home building should remain strong.
Housing starts averaged 1.277 million through the first two months of the fourth quarter compared with the 1.172 million third quarter average, a positive for residential fixed investment in the quarter.
Building permits fell 1.4% in the month, but homes permitted but not started rose 0.6%, so starts could see further increases in the near future. Single-family permits were up 1.4% while multi-family permits fell 6.4%.
Housing completions fell by 6.1% to a 1.116 million annual rate. However, homes under construction rose 1.0% in November due to the recent strong gains in starts, the outlook for new home supply in the next few months is sharply positive.
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