US home building falls 8.5% in Jan, but near-term gains possible

20 February 2013 14:13  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US new home construction fell by 8.5% in January from December, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday, but the pace of residential building was 23.6% ahead of January 2012 and other data suggest modest gains for the sector going forward.

In its monthly report, the department said that housing starts last month were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 890,000 units, down 8.5% from the upwardly revised December pace of 973,000.  December's rate had initially been reported as 954,000.

The January downturn in housing starts was reflected in Tuesday’s report of a slight decline in home builder confidence amid continuing economic uncertainty, tight credit conditions and rising materials costs.

The US housing sector is seen to be in recovery, but progress has been uneven and marked by occasional monthly drops in one market measure or another.

However, as the department’s data indicated on Wednesday, new home construction is running well ahead of the year-earlier pace. January’s 890,000 housing starts mark a 23.6% improvement from the January 2012 figure of 720,000.

The housing market 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, roofing materials and synthetic fibres, among many others.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) estimates that each new home built represents some $15,000 (€11,250) worth of chemicals and derivatives used in the structure or in production of component materials.

The January housing data also suggested that the January downturn might be followed by a renewed advance in February’s construction activity. The report said that January saw 925,000 building permits issued, a 1.8% improvement from the revised December rate of 909,000.

Building permits are issued by local governments when contractors are ready to break ground and begin construction of a residential structure, so monthly permitting data are seen as a real-time indicator of the housing sector’s near-term prospects.

US Housing Starts


Jan ’13

Dec ’12

Dec ’12-Jan ’13

Jan ’12

Jan ’12 to Jan ’13

US Housing Starts






* Seasonally adjusted & annualised

($1 = €0.75)

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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