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Housing starts fall again

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Statistics released today by the U.S. Commerce Department showed that housing starts dropped 10 percent last month, to an annual rate of 1.19 million, compared to 1.33 million in August.

This was the slowest pace of new residential building in 14 years, since March 1993, when 1.08 million units were under construction in the United States.

Aslowdown in condo and apartment projects contributed greatly to the declines, with multi-family housing production posting a 34.3 percent decrease. Single-family housing registered a 1.7 percent drop.

Building permits were also weak, showing a 7.3 percent decrease, from 1.33 million units in August to 1.22 million in September. Single-family permits were down 7.1 percent, and multi-family permit activity contracted by 7.7 percent.

Regionally, the Northeast performed well in housing starts, posting a 45.4 percent month-over-month gain in September. But the Midwest, South and West registered declines of 28.4 percent, 11.7 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively.

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Wolseley will help build scientific research station

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Wolseley, through its insulation distribution business called Encon, will help provide materials for an Antarctic research station, the company has announced.

Wolseley is the United Kingdom-based parent of pro dealers Ferguson and Stock Building Supply.

Encon will be paid 35,000 pounds (US$71,000) to provide thermal products for a new scientific research station in Antarctica. Insulation products supplied from Encon will be used to build a new laboratory run by the British Antarctic Survey.

The station, to be called the Halley VI Research Station, will be located on the Brunt Ice Shelf and incorporate a range of thermal products, drywall and partitioning to ensure an internal temperature of around 68 degrees is maintained, despite external temperatures as low as minus 68.8 degrees.

The new laboratory is expected to have a life span of at least 25 years, according to the company. It will be one of five research stations operated by British Antarctic Survey and will be a center for research into global issues such as climate change, ozone depletion and atmospheric pollution.

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D.R. Horton issues preliminary fourth-quarter results

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Fort Worth, Texas-based home builder D.R. Horton released a preliminary fourth-quarter report showing net sales orders dropped 48 percent to 6,374 homes, a total value of $1.3 billion, from 10,430 homes, a value of $2.5 billion, in the previous year.

The company’s fourth-quarter cancellation rate rose to 48 percent, compared with a rate of 40 percent in the year-ago period.

For the year, the company saw net sales orders drop 35.2 percent to 33,687 homes, or $8.2 billion, from 51,980 homes, or $13.9 billion.

“Inventory levels of both new and existing homes remained high, while pricing remained very competitive,” said Donald Horton, chairman of the company’s board of directors. “We also experienced reduced mortgage availability due to tighter lending standards, and buyers continued to approach the home buying decision cautiously. We expect the housing environment to remain challenging.”

The company will release its fourth-quarter results on Nov. 20. D.R. Horton builds homes in 27 states.

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