Housing starts and building permits miss big

Housing starts and building permits fell more than expected in March, according to the Census Bureau.

Housing starts fell 8.8% at a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.089 million. And, building permits fell 7.7% at an annualized pace of 1.086 million according to Bloomberg.

Both were revised higher for February.

Economists had forecast that starts fell 1.1% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.166 million, while building permits rose 2% at an annualized pace of 1.2 million.

“The overall tone of this report was weak, reflecting the continued uneven performance in this segment of the economy,” said TD Securities’ Millan Mulraine, who’s betting on a rebound in buidling activity in the coming months. “This is certainly a net negative for GDP and it suggests that this segment will be a drag on economic activity this quarter, which we are currently tracking at 0.6%.”

Trulia chief economist Ralph McLaughlin said the 12-month rolling total of starts, a more statistically robust measure, grew 13% year-on-year to 1.143 million. That’s the best 12-month period since August 2007, he said.

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