The U.S. March residential construction report was pretty bleak, with many series reversing February’s advances and at best giving a signal that this beleaguered industry is skating around its low point at a very weakened pace.

March housing starts plunged 10.8% to 510,000, almost reversing the 17.2% February gain and removing signs of turnaround. Permits confirmed the dismal outlook, falling 9.0% to 513,000, a record low that reflected trouble in the multifamily sector.

Single-family starts were flat at 358,000 and multifamily starts fell 29% to 152,000.

By region, starts fell in the South and West, but gained in the Northeast and Midwest. The only area where single-family starts fell was the South, down 7.3%.

Permits fell in all areas except the West, where the total was unchanged.

The Commerce Department estimated new housing inventories included 112,500 units authorized but not started, and 728,000 under construction. The latter is at its lowest point since February 1994, and consists of record low single-family construction and a five-year low in multifamily units. The records go back more than 50 years to January 1959.

— Market News International 

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