Housing starts in June soared to their highest level since October 2008, surging 6.9 percent to 760,000, the ""Census Bureau"":http://www.census.gov/ and ""HUD"":http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD reported jointly Wednesday.[IMAGE]
Housing permits dropped 3.7 percent to 755,000 giving back half of May's gain.
At the same time, permits for May were revised up to 784,000 from the originally reported 780,000 and housing starts were revised up for both April and May, to 747,000 and 711,000 respectively from 744,000 and 708,000.
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected 745,000 starts and 775,000 permits in June
Total housing completions in June rose to 622,000, a 2.6 percent increase from May's upwardly revised 606,000.
Even with the decline in permits, the housing data point to steadily improving residential construction activity.
Starts have averaged 727,000 in the first six months of 2012 compared with 578,000 in the first six months of 2011, a 25.8 percent jump. For all of 2012 starts averaged 612,000 per month.
Permits too have surged: an average of 737,000 per month in the first six months of this year, up 25.3 percent from the average of 588,000 for the same period last year.
Completions too are up, averaging 599,000 for the first six months of this year, 5.8 percent[COLUMN_BREAK]
of the 566,000 for the first six months of 2011.
Single-family activity led the increase in starts, up 4.7 percent in June to 539,000 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô the highest level since April 2010.
Single-family starts have increased for four straight months and seven times in the last nine months.
Multi-family (five or more units) activity accounted for most of the drop in permits, down 31,000 from May while permits for single family homes increased by 3,000. (The balance of the 29,000 month-month decline was a dip in permits for 2-4 unit homes.)
Of the housing completions, builders completed 470,000 single-family homes in June, a 1.3 percent increase from the 464,000 completed in May, compared with 369,000 new home sales reported for May.
With the month-over-month gain, total starts in June are up 23.6 percent from June 2011, the tenth straight month of year-over-year improvement.
Permits, despite the month-over-month decline, are up 19.3 percent from year earlier activity, the fourteenth straight month of year-over-year gains. Total completions in June were up 7.2 percent from last year.
The census data covered the same month for which the ""National Association of Home Builders"":http://www.nahb.com/ reported builder confidence ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô measured by the Housing Market Index ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô rose to 29 (out of 100) from 28.
Any HMI reading below 50 is considered to signal a contraction. Builder confidence for July as reported Tuesday by NAHB rose to 35, the highest level since March 2007.
The national increase in starts ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô 49,000 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô was led by a gain of 59,000 in the West and 14,000 in the Northeast, offsetting declines of 16,000 in the South and 8,000 in the Midwest.
Permits fell month-over-month in three of the four Census regions, improving only in the West where filings rose 5,000 to 180,000.
Permits were flat in the Northeast, fell 33,000 in the South and 1,000 in the Midwest.