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Tag Archives: Residential Construction

Builder Confidence Surges Again in July

After surging in June, the National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) Housing Market Index (HMI)--a measure of builder confidence--shot up again in July, climbing six points to 57, its highest reading since January 2006, the group reported Tuesday. The two-month 13-point gain was the strongest two-month increase since January-February 1992, when the index improved 14 points. All three of the HMI components increased for the third month in a row.

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First-Quarter GDP Growth Scaled Back

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) put GDP growth a 1.8 percent annual rate in the first quarter, a drop from the previous estimate of 2.4 percent. The downward revision to GDP came amidst positive news about the economy. Home prices, according to the Case-Shiller Index released Tuesday, rose at their fastest pace ever in April and consumer confidence, as reported by the Conference Board, increased for the third straight month. Residential fixed investment was reported as $399 billion, up slightly from the second report.

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Beige Book Sees Moderate Growth, Sequester Threat


Despite threats from the federal budget sequester, the nation's economy expanded "at a moderate pace" from late February to early April, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday in its periodic Beige Book. Reports on mortgage lending, the Beige Book said, "were mostly favorable" with stronger refinancing activity in New York and Atlanta. The Cleveland and Kansas City districts, according to the report, "noted a shift from mortgage refinancing to new purchases," and New York, Richmond, Dallas, and San Francisco "reported an uptick in residential mortgage loans."

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Commentary: No News Is…

Sometimes a story just fits--and sometimes it doesn't. Given that maxim, the explanation from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) for the drop in the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) for February has to be viewed with a jaundiced eye. According to the NAR, the PHSI dropped because of the low inventory of homes for sale. Of course, that wasn't offered as an explanation one month earlier, when the inventory of homes for sale dropped, and the PHSI increased.

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GDP Growth More Positive in Revised Report

Real gross domestic product (GDP) rose at an annual rate of 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported Thursday. The report, coming just three days before the end of the first quarter, was an improvement over the first two GDP reports that showed the economy contracted by 0.1 percent then improved by 0.1 percent. The main drag on the fourth quarter economy--as it had been in the previous two fourth-quarter reports--continued to be government spending.

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Starts, Permit Data Show Shift to Multifamily

Housing permits rose a sharp 4.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000 in February, to the highest level since June 2008, while housing starts edged up 0.8 percent to 917,000, the Census Bureau and HUD reported jointly Tuesday. Most--almost 62 percent├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ôof the increase in permits came in applications to build multifamily units. While the comparisons are favorable, the June 2008 activity came in the midst of a steady decline in residential construction.

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Commentary: Budget Pains

It's been two weeks since the dreaded sequester took effect, and so far, the only casualty has been the White House tour. There actually have been some positives, with both parties presenting budgets. However, both the GOP budget and the Democratic plan have one major similarity: Each is dead on arrival and destined to at best be a one-house budget, which leaves the country back where it was. Setting a target for practical balance would bring us closer to reducing the deficit and with less pain.

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