U.S. housing starts unexpectedly plunge in October
The U.S. housing market continues to show signs that it isn't well, with housing starts falling 11.7 percent in October to an 18-month low, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. The annualized rate of new housing starts for last month came in at 519,000, well off consensus estimates of 600,000. While October housing starts fell to a level not seen since April of 2009, September's housing start figures were revised downward as well, from an annualized pace of 600,000 to 588,000. Single-family housing starts -- a subset of the overall housing figures reported by the Commerce Department -- fared only slightly better in October, coming in at a 436,000 annualized rate, down 1.1 percent from a revised September figure of 441,000 and off 8.2 percent from one year earlier. Permits for future construction posted a 550,000 annualized rate in October, up slightly from September but off 4.5 percent from year-ago totals. Single-family permits came in at a rate of 406,000, one percent above September levels. While housing starts missed consensus, the Mortgage Bankers Association also reported Wednesday that mortgage applications fell 14.4% for the week ended Nov. 12 as refinance demand waned during a holiday week. Read the full story. Write to Paul Jackson.