Housing starts took a 16.5% nosedive to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 853,000 for April, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens in PDF) released today.

After heading up an unrevised 7% for March, analysts had expected a slight 6.5% drop to 969,000 for April.

Source: census.gov. 

While housing starts disappointed, new permits in April point to potential growth ahead. Permits increased 14.3% month-to-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.017 million, beating analyst estimates by more than 70,000.

Privately-owned housing completions in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 689,000, 14.3% below the revised March estimate.

In the past 12 months, permits have jumped 35.8%, while housing starts are 13.1% higher. Housing completions in April clocked in 3.3% above April 2012. This latest report comes a day after future home sales expectations were reported to be at five-year highs.