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August housing starts rose 0.9% m/m to 891,000 units [896,000 forecast], while permits sank 3.8% m/m to 918,000 units [945,000 expected].  There were downward revisions to starts in June and July.  The bright spot rests in total starts rising 19.0% y/y and a 7.0% m/m gain in single family starts.  Single family starts are 16.9% above a year ago.   Weakness in the August starts data was a function of multi-family which fell 11.1% m/m, but rose 24% y/y.

August Single family permits rose 3.0% m/m to 627,000 units and are 20.6% ahead of last year.

There were 654,000 privately owned homes under construction in August up 2.2% m/m and 31.9% y/y.  There is a building inventory of unfinished homes which is not too alarming as the inventory of new homes is unusually low.

Further, there was little in the September NAHB survey released yesterday that suggests material change in the industry.  The Composite Index was unchanged to a revised 58, while current sales were flat at a healthy 62 and traffic flow rose 1 to a climbing 47.  Future sales did drop 3 to 65, but are up from 51 last year.  I remain surprised that the rise in mortgage rates has not had a more negative impact on the NAHB data.

On a side note, the MBA purchase index rose 2.5% last week to 188.1.  It has stabilized in recent weeks off the August 9th low of 182.7.  It is still down almost 25% from its may high.

RTI Question:  Do you think housing stocks via the Home Construction ETF (ITB - ETF report) can move over the 200 day average and continue with their rebound?

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