WASHINGTON U.S. homebuilding unexpectedly fell in April amid a persistent decline in the construction of multi-family housing units and a modest rebound in single-family projects, pointing to a slowdown in the housing market recovery.
Housing starts dropped 2.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted
annual rate of 1.17 million units, the Commerce Department said
on Tuesday. That was the lowest level since last November and
followed a downwardly revised rate of 1.20 million units in
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast groundbreaking
activity rising to a rate of 1.26 million units last month from
a previously reported rate of 1.22 million units in March.
Homebuilding increased 0.7 percent on a year-on-year basis.
Single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest
share of the residential housing market, rebounded 0.4 percent
to a pace of 835,000 units last month. That left the bulk of the
5.1 percent decline in March intact.
Single-family starts surged 19.4 percent in the Midwest and
advanced 9.1 percent in the West. They fell 3.4 percent in the
South and tumbled 29.2 percent in the Northeast.
Some of the drop in starts, especially in the Northeast, could be weather-related after a snowstorm lashed the region in
March. Demand for housing remains underpinned by a tightening
labor market, characterized by an unemployment rate at a 10-year
low of 4.4 percent.
A survey on Monday showed homebuilders' confidence rose in
May, with bullishness about current sales and over the next six
Last month, starts for the volatile multi-family housing
segment dropped 9.2 percent to a pace of 337,000 units. Multi-
family starts have declined for four straight months.
Building permits fell 2.5 percent, driven by a 4.5 percent
drop percent in the single-family segment. Multi-family permits
rose 1.4 percent.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)