U.S. Housing Starts In January Exceed Expectations

By John S. McClenahen At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.678 million, U.S. housing starts in January for privately owned dwellings far exceeded the consensus forecast of 1.6 million. January's strong showing was 6% above the revised December mark of 1.579 million and 1% higher than the January 2001 level of 1.666 million, report the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Although mild weather probably contributed to the gain, the resiliency of the housing sector cannot be disputed, and it will be a positive contributor to first quarter [GDP] growth," states Karen Dexter, an economist at Merrill Lynch & Co., New York.

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