More REALLY Bad News: Housing Starts Down a Seasonally Adjusted 16.5% in April; March-April Drop in Actual Starts Is Worst Ever by Far (Also: Philly Fed Piles On)
Just as building activity is supposed to pick up for the spring and summer, it’s not happening:
Housing starts slumped 16.5 percent, the most since February 2011, to an 853,000 annualized rate after a revised 1.02 million pace in March, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. The median estimate of 81 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a 970,000 rate.
That’s known in the business as a humongous miss.
UPDATE: Looking at the raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) data at the Census Bureau, today’s reported drop from 84,500 starts in March to 76,700 units in April, a 9.2% decline, is the largest March-April falloff on record — by miles. Only two other years during the past 55 have seen March-April drops, and they were both less than 1,000 units.
You can almost bet the house that no one in the establishment press will report the disastrous raw numbers.
UPDATE 2: If you’re desperate for a silver lining, the single-family component of raw starts increased from 52,500 to 56,900, which is a decent increase, but certainly nothing special. This of course means that multiple-unit starts dropped by almost 40%.
UPDATE 3: Via Zero Hedge —
Philly Fed (survey of business) did not disappoint (in creating another letdown), printing at -5.2, down from 1.3, and crushing expectations of an increase to +2.0 (coming below the lowest forecast), the biggest miss since February and confirming that the Empire Fed index plunge was not a fluke.
I don’t think we’ve seen a series of misses vs. expectations this big (unemployment, housing, and above) in almost five years.