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US Housing: Rear-View Mirror Looks a Bit Shaky at the Moment

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Residential construction activity tumbled 11% last month, falling at a deeper rate than expected, the US Census Bureau reports. The news adds another dovish factor into the analysis for the already wobbly outlook for a rate hike at next month’s Fed policy meeting. Newly issued building permits rose in October, offering a positive counterpoint to the slide in new housing starts, which was led lower by a slump in multi-family units. But to the extent that there’s a bullish spin to promote, it fades when reviewing the year-over-year comparisons.

Indeed, housing starts fell 1.8% in October vs. the year-earlier level—the first case of red ink in the annual comparison since March. Permits are still advancing in year-over-year terms, but the rise has dwindled to a thin 2.7% gain.

The...

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