Housing starts rebound in March - East Valley Tribune: Business

Housing starts rebound in March

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Posted: Saturday, April 17, 2004 7:02 am | Updated: 4:51 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

WASHINGTON - Housing construction rebounded with gusto in March, rising by 6.4 percent, the largest increase in 10 months. But production at America’s industries fell.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that the number of residential projects that builders started last month clocked in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2 million units, representing a 6.4 percent rise from the previous month.

Housing construction across the Valley far outpaced the national market last month, according to Valley housing analyst R.L. Brown. Valley home construction figures for March will be out next week.

"We’re apparently on the same track as the national trend," he said.

"However, we’re going to be more than 6 percent ahead of last year. I would suspect we could be as much as 15 percent ahead of last year, which was an all-time record. We’re really seeing a boom in real estate activity."

In another report, production at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities dipped by 0.2 percent in March, following two months of strong increases, the Federal Reserve said.

Industrial production rose by 0.7 percent in January and 0.8 percent in February.

‘‘It shows what every manufacturer knows — business is volatile, growing in spurts, not in a smooth pattern,’’ said Daniel Meckstroth, chief economist at the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, a research group.

‘‘The report should be seen as a temporary pause in the context of a solid industrial expansion.’’

Manufacturing output, which had registered a 1.1 percent surge in February, was flat last month.

The overall industrial production number in March was also held down by a 2.3 percent plunge in output at gas and electric utilities, the sharpest decline in a year.

That reflected a decrease in demand because of unseasonably warm weather, the Fed said. In February, output at utilities declined by 0.8 percent.

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