Building Permits Rise in December

Housing starts fell last month to a less-than-expected 4.0 percent for December after rising 10.7 percent in November. Starts fell nationwide, except in the South, where starts rose 3.3 percent.

Despite the unexpected decline in total starts, multifamily housing starts continued their 69.8 percent surge in November, rising 12.2 percent for last month.

The data for December show only a slight 0.2 percent overall increase in starts from December a year ago.

Housing permits, however, rose 10.9 percent last month, after a 6.9 percent increase last November.

Today’s report from the Commerce Department shows that new home construction exhibited unexpected weakness for the last month of 2009. The unseasonably cold weather may have contributed to the decline.

But builder optimism remains high and future housing market reports will tell us if expectations translate into higher sales.

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