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Housing starts fall to record low in April


Housing starts hit a record low last month as a drop in multifamily building offset a slight increase in construction of single-family housing, the Associated Press reported.

Construction of new homes and apartments declined 12.8 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 458,000 units. Permit applications for new projects also fell 3.3 percent to a record low annual rate of 494,000.

One positive sign was that single-family home building rose 2.8 percent to an annual rate of 368,000, after a 0.3 percent increase in March. But construction in the more volatile multifamily housing sector plummeted 46.1 percent to an annual rate of 90,000 units, following a 23 percent decrease in March.

Housing starts fell 21.4 percent in the Midwest, the second-largest decrease following the Northeast, which declined 30.6 percent.

However, builder confidence increased in May, according to the National Association of Home Builders survey. The group’s index rose two points to 16, the highest reading since September, though it remains near historical lows. A reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the market.

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