Industry NewsNews Brief

Despite dip, housing starts show strength

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Builders started construction on new homes in January at a pace that suggests last year's upswing in construction is sustainable despite a slight month-over-month dip.At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 890,000 units per year, January new-home starts were down 8.5 percent from the month before, but up 23.6 percent from a year ago, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. The pace of new-home construction in January represents an 86 percent increase from an April 2009 bottom of 478,000, but is still less than half the mid-2000s peak.  But housing starts are getting closer to historical norms as they continue to trend upward after two and a half years in the doldrums. Total housing starts, which include both multifamily and single-family units, were dragged down in January by an unexpected sharp decline in the "volatile" multifamily housing sector, wrote Bill McBride on his blog at Calculated Risk. McBride characterized the latest numbers as "a so...