2011 Economic Calendar
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Housing Starts  
Released On 4/19/2011 8:30:00 AM For Mar, 2011
PriorPrior RevisedConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Starts - Level - SAAR0.479 M0.6 M0.525 M0.500 M to 0.620 M0.549 M
Permits - Level - SAAR0.517 M0.534 M0.594 M

Housing construction may be returning to normalcy after recently volatile winter months. Starts are up but still at a depressed pace. Housing starts in March rebounded 7.2 percent, following a monthly 18.5 percent drop in February. The March annualized pace of 0.549 million units came in higher than analysts' estimate for 0.525 million units and is down 13.4 percent on a year-ago basis. The improvement in March was led by a monthly 7.7 percent boost in single-family starts, following an 8.8 percent decrease in February. The multifamily component made a 5.8 percent partial comeback after plunging 39.4 percent in February. Overall starts for February were revised up to 0.512 million units annualized from the original estimate of 0.479 million.

By region, the rebound in starts in was led by a 32.3 percent jump in the Midwest. Also improving were the West, up 27.6 percent, and the Northeast, up 5.4 percent. The South slipped 3.3 percent.

There may be modest improvement ahead for housing starts. Housing permits gained 11.2 percent in March after decreasing 5.2 percent the prior month. Overall permits came in at an annualized rate of 0.534 million units and are down 13.3 percent on a year-ago basis.

Today's report is modest good news for a sector where expectations have been running low. Activity is still at a depressed level but now there is hope that housing is not back on a downtrend. Despite the favorable numbers, it is good that they were not much better. Supply is still high and too much of a boost in starts would simply mean pullback later until demand is more robust.

The March housing starts reports provided small lift to equity futures which earlier had been boosted by favorable earnings reports.

Consensus Outlook
Housing starts in February dropped a monthly 22.5 percent after jumping 18.4 percent the prior month. The February annualized pace of 0.479 million units was down 20.8 percent on a year-ago basis. The February reversal was led by a monthly 46.1 percent drop in multifamily starts, following an 87.4 percent surge in January. Also, the single-family component fell 11.8 percent in February after edging up 1.4 percent the prior month. Housing permits declined 8.2 percent in February, following a 10.2 percent decrease in February. Looking ahead, housing starts are notoriously volatile in winter months when seasonal factors are so large and anything can happen coming off those months.

A housing start is registered at the start of construction of a new building intended primarily as a residential building. The start of construction is defined as the beginning of excavation of the foundation for the building.  Why Investors Care
Monthly figures are often volatile; housing starts fluctuate more than many indicators. It takes several months for total housing starts to establish a trend. Consequently, we have depicted total starts relative to a five month moving average.
Data Source: Haver Analytics

2011 Release Schedule
Released On: 1/192/163/164/195/176/167/198/169/2010/1911/1712/20
Release For: DecJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNov

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