The news out of the housing sector continues to impress.
Housing starts for October soared to a 4 year high, jumping 3.6% to 894,000. That beat even the high end of the forecasters range and was the fastest increase since July 2008.
Permits fell 2.7% to 866,000 but that was coming off of a big September number. The mix is also changing. Multi-family housing units had been hot the past year but there were fewer multi-family permits in October. The single family home permits, however, rose to the highest since July 2008.
Builder Confidence Surges
The housing starts data is coming on the heels of a new 6 year high in the Builder Confidence Index. It jumped to 46 in November, which still indicates some pessimism, as it's under 50. That means more home builders see conditions as bad versus good. But the index has been up 7 straight months.
For comparison of how much sentiment has turned, the index stood at just 19 in November of 2011. There could be a positive number as soon as next month.
Mortgage rates continue to hit generational lows. Last week, the 30-year mortgage rate averaged 3.34%. Low rates mean lower monthly payments. This is aiding housing affordability.
Will housing be enough of a boost to the U.S. economy to get it out of the muddle through phase of the recovery in 2013?