The Week Ahead

HOUSING STARTS Tuesday, May 19, 8:30 a.m.

Housing starts probably fell slightly, to an annual rate of 1.3 million in April from 1.36 million in March, says the consensus of economists surveyed by MMS International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. However, the drop may be even greater because most of the gain in March was in multi-unit construction, which jumped by 63%, to a 212,000 rate, despite the oversupply of such housing in most regions. If apartment starts fell back to a more sustainable level of about 150,000, total housing starts likely declined to an annual rate of 1.25 million in April. In addition, mortgage applications for home purchases were down in April, suggesting that home sales were weak for the month.

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