U.S. home construction picked up momentum in April, ending a two-month downturn.
Housing starts rose 5.7% in April to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 1.235 million, the Commerce Department said on Thursday.
The increase was broad-based, driven by construction of both new single-family and multi-family housing. Single-family housing starts rose by 6.2% from the prior month to 854,000, while the multi-family segment posted a gain of 2.3% to 359,000. Starts were particularly strong in the Northeast and the Midwest.
Building permits, a sign of future activity, climbed 0.6% to 1.296 million units in April.
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“Builders spotted a clear runway in April, coming on the heels of a March rebound in new home sales and amid low mortgage rates and a robust labor market,” said Matthew Speakman, an economic data analyst with real-estate pricing website Zillow, “and without the barriers presented by this winter’s partial government shutdown and early signs of a trade war with China.”
“In short, starts rose sharply, although the data have been volatile,” said Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics. The housing starts in April were still down 2.5% from last year.
The number of completed new homes, waiting to hit the market, declined 1.4% from April, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.3 million, but were 5.5% higher than a year ago.
“With continuing tightness in inventory, new supply is welcome news for buyers,” said George Ratiu, senior economist for realtor.com.