The Week Ahead

HOUSING STARTS Tuesday, Oct. 20, 8:30 a.m.

Housing starts probably fell slightly in September, to an annual rate of 1.21 million, from a 1.24 million pace in August, project economists surveyed by mms International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. That's suggested by the decline in building permits in August and the drop in construction payrolls in September. However, the weakness is likely to be concentrated in the South, where Hurricane Andrew halted most new construction in Florida and Louisiana. The rebuilding from that storm should boost the housing data in the fourth quarter. Mortgage rates rose a bit in September from their below-8% levels in August. And that uptick in rates may have persuaded house hunters to buy last month rather than risk higher mortgage costs later on.

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