Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Is the rise in housing starts just a blip?

After falling for eight months, construction of new homes rose unexpectedly in February (albeit from low numbers). Since housing starts can swing wildly from month to month, one month certainly doesn't make a trend, and yet the financial markets greeted the news with enthusiasm. So is this just a blip? From CNNMoney.com:

Initial construction of U.S. homes unexpectedly surged in February, after falling for eight months, according to a government report released Tuesday.

Housing starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 583,000 last month, up 22% from a revised 477,000 in January, according to the Commerce Department. It was the first time housing starts increased since June, when they rose 11%.

Economists were expecting housing starts to decline to 450,000, according to consensus estimates compiled by Briefing.com. Still, starts are down more than 47% from February 2008, when over 1.1 million new homes broke ground...

While the surge in new construction was a welcome sign for the nation's battered housing market, analysts warned that the increase could be short lived.

"With new home sales still falling and the months' supply at a record, there is no reason for homebuilding to rise," wrote Ian Sheperdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics in a research note. "This is a temporary rebound, not a recovery."

New home construction surged in the Northeast, jumping nearly 89% last month. Starts also increased in the Midwest and the South.

In the West, where the housing market was overbuilt in the boom years and where there is a glut of foreclosed homes, starts declined nearly 25% versus the previous month.

No comments: