New Home Construction Falls to Record Lows

Investors expecting the housing sector to stabilize are disappointed, as home and apartment construction hits new lows in April.
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Investors expecting the housing sector to stabilize were surely disappointed on Tuesday, as home and apartment construction hit new lows in April.

The Commerce Department said construction of new homes and apartments fell 12.8% in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 458,000 units, its lowest mark on records in a half-century.

Economists actually expected home construction and building permits to post modest increases in April, after March showed some positive signs.

Permits for new projects hit new lows, falling 3.3% to an annual rate of 494,000. Single-family homes, however, saw a slight rebound, increasing 2.8% to an annual rate of 368,000.

Good news at

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

and

Lowe's

(LOW) - Get Report

, as well as an increase in builder confidence reported on Monday by The National Association of Homebuilders, was pegged to signal a turnaround. But disappointing housing data overshadowed these better-than-expected earnings and confidence.

Earlier this month, homebuilders also gave little hope that a turnaround is imminent.

Pulte Homes

(PHM) - Get Report

and

Centex

(CTX)

, which agreed to merge this year, said that while their quarterly losses narrowed, they continued to be battered by falling prices and a glut of unsold homes.

D.R. Horton

(DHI) - Get Report

also reported that its losses had shrunk, but the company said it still faces challenges from foreclosures, high inventory levels, tight homebuyer credit, low consumer confidence and job losses.

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