It wasn't the blockbuster, early Christmas present that construction industry executives were secretly wishing for, but the housing starts report for November at least delivered another big increase over the year-ago figure.
The Department of Commerce's New Residential Construction Report for November showed housing starts at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 861,000. That's 3.0% below the downwardly revised October estimate of 888,000, but 21.6% above the November 2011 rate of 708,000.
Looking only at single-family housing starts -- the bread and butter of dealers and builders -- the figures were, once again, down for the month but up for the year. At a pace of 565,000 in November, single-family starts were down 4.1% from October, and up 22.8% compared with the same month last year.
The building-permit situation showed more momentum. Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in November were at a pace of 899,000, up 3.6% above the revised October rate of 868,000 and up 26.8% above the November 2011 estimate of 709,000.