Housing starts came in at a lower-than-expected annual rate of 193,032 in July vs expectations for 195,000. June was revised lower to 202,338. Single-detached starts fell 0.8 percent in the month, down from a 2.3 percent gain in June, while multiples fell 8.2 percent following June's 3.1 percent climb. Regional data show sharp monthly declines in the Atlantic and Ontario regions, down 13.8 and 13.7 percent respectively, with the only gain in British Columbia at 4.7 percent.
Housing starts is the annualized number of new residential buildings that began construction during the previous month.
Housing starts are a leading indicator of economic health because building construction produces a wide-reaching ripple effect. This narrow piece of data has a powerful multiplier effect through the economy, and therefore across the markets and your investments. Home builders usually don't start a house unless they are fairly confident it will sell upon or before its completion. Changes in the rate of housing starts tell us a lot about demand for homes and the outlook for the construction industry. Furthermore, each time a new home is started, construction employment rises, and income will be pumped back into the economy.
Once the home is sold, it generates revenues for the home builder and a myriad of consumption opportunities for the buyer. Refrigerators, washers and dryers, furniture, and landscaping are just a few things new home buyers might spend money on, so the economic "ripple effect" can be substantial. Since the economic backdrop is the most pervasive influence on financial markets, housing starts have a direct bearing on stocks, bonds and commodities. In a more specific sense, trends in the housing starts data carry valuable clues for the stocks of home builders, mortgage lenders, and home furnishings companies. Commodity prices such as lumber are also very sensitive to housing industry trends.
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