(AFP) – Jun 16, 2011
WASHINGTON — Homebuilding in the United States rebounded in May after a sharp drop in April as the distressed housing market struggles to climb out of collapse, official data showed Thursday.
Housing starts rose 3.5 percent from April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 560,000, the Commerce Department said, topping economists' estimates.
Building permits, a forward-looking indicator, jumped 8.7 percent to a rate of 612,000.
Still, the May improvement was from the depths of a years-old housing market slump -- housing starts were down 3.4 percent from a year ago.
The number of building permits, by contrast, was up 5.2 percent from May 2010.
"Though permits and starts posted a gain in May, the levels of building activity remain dismally low," said David Resler at Nomura Global Economics.
"A prime example: housing under construction fell slightly to an annual rate of 418,000 units in May, which is the lowest rate on record as builders continue to pare back activity to get under flagging demand."
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