Housing Starts Fall 0.2%, but Permits Soar 7.7%

Housing starts fell 0.2% for February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 907,000, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens a PDF) released today.

Although January's report saw a sharp upward revision from 880,000 to 909,000, February's numbers still failed to live up to expectations. Analysts had expected a stronger seasonally adjusted annual rate of 910,000. 

Source: Census.gov. 

But not all news is bad. While housing starts took a hit, housing permits increased 7.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,018,000 . Not only does that push permits past the symbolic million mark, but it also surpasses analyst expectations of a more subdued 960,000 rate. The big rise in permit applications pushed activity to the highest level since October's 1.04 million rate, which had been the fastest pace since June 2008.

Housing completions also finished off the month ahead, up 4.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 886,000. 

Over the last year, housing starts have fallen 6.4%, permits are up 6.9%, and completions have soared 21.9%. 

Today's news comes a day after a housing market index report pegged homebuilders as uneasy about their future.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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