Home Construction News -- Housing Starts Increase the Highest Since 1973

Home Builders in the United States took advantage of the warmest January on record to break ground on the most new houses in more than three decades.

Home Construction began on homes at an annual rate of 2.276 million, up 15 percent from December's revised 1.988 million and the most since March 1973, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. The increase follows the best year ever for sales.

Bloomberg notes that this "jump intensifies debate among economists about whether the housing market owes its resilience to a warm winter or an economy that's rebounding from a fourth-quarter slowdown. The outcome may determine how much the Federal Reserve raises interest rates after 14 consecutive increases since June 2004."

"Housing is in the process of slowing down,'' said Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at Maria Fiorini Ramirez Inc. in New York . "Whenever you get record warmth in January and builders can get out there and do their thing it's going to affect the numbers.''

January 2006 was the warmest January in over 110 years. In most of the U.S. housing starts were expected to rise to a 2.02 million annual rate from December's previously reported 1.933 million, based on the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists.

For more information please see www.bloomberg.com




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