Housing Starts In U.S. Top Forecast

There's another sign that U.S. consumers are planning to sit out the slowing domestic economy in the comfort of new homes. Starts of privately owned housing were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.038 million in April, 11% above the revised March figure of 1.836 million, the U.S. Commerce Department and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development jointly reported on May 17. Economists generally had projected a rate of 1.98 million for April.

"The rebound may have been weather-related, as poorer weather depressed starts in March," said Claudia Lokody, an economist at Merrill Lynch & Co., New York.

Starts of single-family homes were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.635 million in April, 6.3% higher than the revised March rate of 1.538 million. The start rate in April for buildings with five or more units was 351,000, some 34% higher than March's rate of 262,000.

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