Housing Starts, Permits Drop

by: Roy Mehta

The Commerce Department said Tuesday housing starts fell in November, after increasing in October, and building permits dropped to their lowest level in 14 years. For the month of November, housing starts fell 3.7% to an annual seasonally-adjusted rate of 1.187 million homes, having jumped a revised up 4.2% in October. The November figures were ahead of economist estimates of a 5.7% drop to a 1.16 million annual rate. "The housing shock is about half-way over," Ethan Harris, chief U.S. economist at Lehman Brothers, said. "We expect home prices to fall through the end of 2008."

Construction permits, which are a gauge of future construction, fell 1.5% to a 1.152 million home rate, the lowest level since June 1993. Economists were anticipating a 0.5% increase to a 1.164 annual rate. By region, housing starts dropped 16.3% in the Northeast, 1.5% in the Midwest, and 6.9% in the West. They increased 0.3% in the South.

Seeking Alpha's news briefs are combined into a pre-market summary called Wall Street Breakfast. Get Wall Street Breakfast by email -- it's free and takes only seconds to sign up.