U.S. housing data signals economic strength; manufacturing weak

U.S. housing starts in November rebounded from a seven-month low and permits surged to a five-month high, signs of strength in the housing market as the Federal Reserve starts hiking interest rates after years of easy monetary policy.

Other data on Wednesday showed the industrial sector continuing to struggle under the weight of a strong dollar, cutbacks in inventory investment as well as spending cuts by energy firms in response to persistently low oil prices. Groundbreaking jumped 10.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.17 million units last month, the Commerce Department said. Building permits vaulted 11 percent to a 1.29 million-unit rate, the highest since June. With permits running ahead of starts, home building is likely to remain supported in the months ahead.

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