Figures for the start of construction on new housing projects fell well short of forecasts in November, according to the Commerce Department. Jeanne Yurman reports.
BROADCAST AND DIGITAL RESTRICTIONS~NONE**Broadcasters: Digital: NONE**~ Housing start figures lived up to their volatile reputation in November. After posting the strongest reading since 2007 in October, housing starts, or groundbreaking on new construction projects, plunged a surprise 18.7 percent according to the Commerce Department. That translates to an annual rate of 1.09 million units. Permits, a gauge of future intent to build, was down a more mild 4.7 percent. All four regions of the country saw a decline. Mutli-family construction plunging 45 percent. Single-family home building, however - which makes up two-thirds of housing starts - dipping just four percent. Despite November's drop, economists say the housing market remains on solid ground even with mortgage rates hitting two-year highs. In a note, chief U.S. economist, Jim Sullivan, at High Frequency Economics says, "The data have been unusually volatile but, through the volatility, trends have generally been up." The report comes after a survey of homebuilders' confidence Thursday hit its highest level since July 2005 this month.