US sales of new single-family homes rise 7.3% in April

24 May 2011 16:49  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US sales of new single-family homes rose by 7.3% in April from March, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday, marking a second month of strong growth after hitting an all-time low in February.

In its monthly report, the department said that sales of new one-family houses in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 323,000 units, compared with the upwardly revised March figure of 301,000.

However, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) noted that the welcome upturn in new residential sales in March and April had to be measured against February’s record low-point.

February’s sales of new single-family homes were initially reported at only 250,000 units but later the figure was revised up to 270,000.

In either case, and with the March and April sales rates in the 300,000 to 325,000 range, the new home construction industry was said to be “running at idle”, in the words of NAHB chief economist David Crow.

The latest annualised sales pace of 323,000 units sold stands in stark contrast to the housing boom years of 2003-2006 when new one-family homes were selling at an annual rate of around 1.2m units - almost four times the current level.

Housing construction is a key downstream consumer sector for the chemicals industry, driving demand for a wide variety of chemicals, resins and derivative products such as plastic pipe, insulation, paints and coatings, adhesives and synthetic fibres, among many others.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) estimates that each new home built represents some $16,000 (€11,360) worth of chemicals and derivatives used in the structure or in production of component materials.

Despite the 7.3% improvement in new home sales in April, the department noted that last month’s pace was still 23.1% below the April 2010 level of 420,000 units sold (also on a seasonally adjusted annual basis).

But the boost in April new home sales was a welcome change of direction for the US housing sector, which lately has been hammered by continuing bad news.

Last week saw reports of an April decline in sales of existing homes, a sharp 10.6% drop in new housing starts and a home builders survey showing that contractors don’t expect a housing recovery anytime soon.

($1 = €0.71)

Paul Hodges studies key influencers shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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