Posted on 17 Mar 2009
According to data released today by the Commerce Department, new U.S. housing starts and permits unexpectedly rebounded in February, an unusual piece of good news for the recession-hit economy and fractured housing market.
The Commerce Department said housing starts jumped 22.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 583,000 units from 477,000 units in January. This was the biggest percentage rise since January 1990 and also marked the first increase since last April.
"That is an encouraging sign for the U.S. economy. It is good signal of what is to come. With the rally in equities we hopefully have seen a bottom for the economy here," said Matt Esteve, foreign exchange trader at Tempus Consulting in Washington.
New building permits, which give a sense of future home construction, rose 3.0 percent to 547,000 units, from 531,000 units in January. That also marked the first advance in permits since April last year.
Compared to the same period in 2008, housing starts were down 47.3 percent in February and permits declined 44.2 percent. Completions rose 2.3 percent to a rate of 785,000 from January's 767,000.