The U.S. April housing starts fell 12.8% to a new low of 458,000 units, and permits dropped 3.3% to a new low 494,0000. However, the declines were all in multi-units.

Single-family starts posted a respectable 2.8% advance to 368,000 units and single-family permits gained 3.6% to 373,000. These are signs that housing is bottoming. Also, housing completions posted a third month of gain of 4.9% to 874,000.

Still, housing is about 50% lower over the year and has a very long way to go to full recovery.

Starts were down in all areas except the West at plus-42.5%, which reverses the minus-29% print in March. There was also strength in the 14.3% rise in single-family starts in the Midwest.

Inventories of foreclosures are probably still dissuading builders from making heavy investments: inventories of new homes under construction at 685,000 remained at their lowest point since September 1993.

— Market News International

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