U.S. housing starts up 1.5% in January

February 17, 2012 9:14 am 

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 — U.S. home builders broke ground on more projects in January, as more apartments were built last month, adding relief to the faltering property market, the Commerce Department reported on Thursday.

For January, U.S. privately-owned housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 699,000, 1.5 percent above the revised estimate of 689,000 for December 2011, and was 9.9 percent above the level one year earlier.

Single-family housing starts in January were at the rate of 508,000. This was one percent below the revised December figure of 513,000. The volatile apartments starts rose 14.4 percent in January from a month earlier to 175,000 units.

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits, a gauge of future construction, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 676,000, up 0.7 percent from the revised December level, and was 19 percent above the estimate one year earlier.

The U.S. housing industry has been suffering its worst slump in decades since 2007. The home price decline, a persisting credit crunch and a large inventory of discounted foreclosures pose a strong headwind for the country's economic recovery. (PNA/Xinhua) DCT/mmg

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