HOUSING STARTS REBOUND

The nation's home builders wasted no time catching up on their work following wet weather conditions that kept many projects on hold in September, according to figures on U.S. housing starts released by the Commerce Department.

The government reported that starts rose 6.4 percent to a seasonably adjusted annual rate of 2.03 million units in October, more than offsetting the weather-related dip recorded in the previous month.

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Starts rose across the board in October, with substantial gains registered in both the single- and multifamily sectors as well as in every region of the country. Single-family starts gained 5.7 percent to reach a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.65 million units. Continuing at this pace, they would easily surpass last year's record that was just shy of 1.5 million units. Meanwhile, multifamily starts bounced up 9.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 382,000, the fastest pace since December of 2003.

Regionally, starts posted the biggest gain, of 20 percent, in the Northeast, followed by an 8.6 percent boost in the Midwest, a 5.0 percent lift in the West and a 4.0 percent improvement in the South.

Issuance of building permits, which can be an indicator of future building activity, was virtually unchanged in October with a less-than 1-percent decline to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.98 million units.

HOUSING STARTS FOR OCTOBER 2004
Percent Increase Number of Units
Single-family units 5.7 1.65 million
Multifamily units 9.5 382,000
Total units 6.4 2.03 million
colspan="3">Source: The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)

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