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Housing Data Mixed for June: Swoon on the Way?

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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Although this week does not carry the same amount of consequential economic reports we received all through last week, we do see important Housing Starts and Building Permits releases hitting the tape ahead of today’s opening bell. Numbers were decidedly mixed from expectations: Housing Starts rose +6.3% month over month, better than expected, while Building Permits were -5.1% from analyst estimates.

Seasonally adjusted, annualized Housing Permits last month came in art 1.64 million, a notable improvement over the expected 1.59 million, as well as the downwardly revised 1.55 million reported in May. These figures are still off the March highs of 1.725 million new starts, which was the highest level in 15 years. But input price spikes on shortages in lumber and other commodities have pulled new starts down.

Also, shortages in labor and real estate — homebuilders were not buying up new plots fast enough during the depths of the pandemic, even as a mass exodus from crowded cities in favor of larger houses with bigger spaces was fast becoming the desired norm — have helped keep new starts numbers lower. That said, today’s total marks the second-highest of 2021, beating January’s reported 1.625 million.

Building Permits, also for June — a proxy for future starts — tells a much different story, however: a total of 1.60 million reported new permits is well off the 1.68 million analysts had been anticipating, which is also the amount of permits reported the previous month. We’re now back down to levels not seen since last fall. Are input prices hampering the housing market going forward?

Ahead of today’s open, Dow component The Travelers Companies (TRV - Free Report) reported a big beat for Q2 this morning: $3.45 per share is well above the $2.35 per share in the Zacks consensus, and far improved from the -20 cents reported in the year-ago quarter, for a 46.8% earnings surprise. Revenues of $8.63 billion topped the $8.29 billion, for a 4.1% surprise. It marks the fifth straight earnings beat for the insurance major; prior to this string it had missed five times in the last 10 quarters. For more on TRV’s earnings, click here.

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