BuildingTeam Construction Forecast

Mann at Work

Reed Construction Data editor Denise Mann gathers North American construction-related economic announcements from around the Web and summarizes them just for BuildingTeam Forecast readers. Your feedback and suggestions for future topics to be covered are always welcome.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

U.S. Housing Permits Plunge, But Not All the News is Bad

May 17 2007 8:10AM | Permalink | Email this | Comments (0) |
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While the low April numbers for U.S. housing starts and permits were no surprise, the fact that U.S. industrial production and capacity utilization increased in the month is good news. As expected, the U.S. consumer price index for April also rose this week. In Canada, new motor vehicles sales edged up slightly.

Elsewhere on BuildingTeamForecast, Jim Haughey writes that the market for non-residential construction is as good right now as it is ever going to get. In fact, all economic factors for the non-residential building market are currently positive, except those for manufacturing plants.

U.S. housing permits plunge downward in April; starts rise slightly
The U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that building permits for privately-owned housing units were down 8.9% in April when compared to the March 2007 rate and -28.1% compared to April 2006 figure. Permits for single-family units were down 6.0% below the March figure.

Meanwhile, privately-owned housing starts were 2.5% above their March level, but 16.1% below the level recorded in April 2006.

Here’s how the numbers, at seasonally adjusted annual rates, looked:


U.S. Residential
Building Permits

U.S. Residential
Housing Starts

April 2007



March 2007



April 2006



Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization move up in April
U.S. industrial production rose 0.7% in April, after decreasing 0.3% in March, according to a May 15 release from the U.S. federal reserve. Led by rising motor vehicles/parts and high-technology goods, the manufacturing sector rose 0.5% in the month. The rate of capacity utilization for total industry was up 0.4 percentage points, to 81.6% in April. This figure is 0.6 percentage points above the 1972-2006 average.

April U.S. Consumer Price Index rises 0.6%
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose 0.6%* in April, according to the May 15 announcement from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The April level of 206.7 (1983-1984=100) was 2.5% higher than the April 2006 level.

New motor vehicle sales in Canada edge up slightly in March
Statistics Canada announced May 15 that new motor vehicle sales moved up 0.1% in March, after two consecutive monthly declines. Despite a 1.8% decline in sales between fourth-quarter 2006 and first-quarter 2007, sales were roughly even on a year-over-year basis when comparing first-quarter 2007 with first-quarter 2006 sales.

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