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US housing slowdown hits home


July 1, 2008
By Pulp & Paper Canada

In April 2008, the US posted the biggest increase in new housing starts in more than two years, a rare spot of good news amidst the worst slide in housing in more than two decades.

In April 2008, the US posted the biggest increase in new housing starts in more than two years, a rare spot of good news amidst the worst slide in housing in more than two decades.

The US Commerce Department reported in May that housing construction rose by 8.2% in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.03 million units. Construction of single-family homes, however, continued to weaken. Growth came chiefly from a big jump in apartment construction.

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Still, the over-all gain is marginal, compared to the precipitous slump in housing starts in March, which reduced activity to the slowest pace in 17 years. The surprising rebound is expected to be temporary, however, given the obstacles builders are facing -from slumping sales to soaring home foreclosures.

“Home construction is probably going to continue to fall right through this year,” Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wachovia in Charlotte, NC, said in a recent Bloomberg Television interview. “While we see a bottoming in sales in 2008, we really don’t see an improvement until later 2009, early 2010.”


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