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Saturday 21st of February 2009
February 18, 2009

US housing starts fall to record low


by Kay Murchie
”US

The US Commerce Department has revealed that US housing starts fell by 16.8% last month - the lowest level since the Commerce Department started collecting data in 1959.

The construction of new houses and apartments fell to an annual rate of 466,000 units in January, much less than the forecasted rate of 530,000 by analysts.

Ian Shepherdson, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics, described the figures as “terrible”.

Mr Shepherdson added that the worst isn’t over yet since the inventory of new homes is still rising relative to sales.

The US Commerce Department also said applications for building permits, a barometer of future home construction, also fell to a record low rate of 521,000 units in January, a fall of 4.8% compared with December.

The US housing market has been badly hit as the credit crisis has made obtaining a mortgage even more expensive.

As a result of the collapse in the housing market, the US Government is to spend $275 billion (£193 billion) to prevent millions of Americans from losing their homes.

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