WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S home construction rose moderately in March as builders resumed work at the end of a frigid winter. But applications for building permits slid, clouding the outlook for future construction.
Builders started work on 946,000 homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in March, up 2.8 percent from 920,000 in February, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Construction of single-family homes rose 6 percent, more than offsetting a 3.1 percent drop in the construction of apartments, condominiums and town houses.
As the weather moderated, construction rose 30.7 percent in the Northeast and jumped 65.5 percent in the Midwest. But it fell 9.1 percent in the South and 4.5 percent in the West.
Applications for permits, a gauge of future activity, fell 2.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 990,000.
"The outcome is less dynamic than anticipated," Annalisa Piazza, an economist at Newedge Strategy, said in a research report.
Economists had expected housing starts to hit 970,000 last month. Piazza noted that housing construction in March was 5.9 percent less than a year earlier.
"It echoes several of the other reports we've seen of late which do show a spring snapback, but one not nearly as strong as once hoped," said Dan Greenhaus, chief strategist at BTIG.
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