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March housing starts slip 6.8%

BY HBSDealer Staff

U.S. housing starts backtracked in March, falling 6.8% even as building permits eked out some progress.

Total housing starts came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,215,000 last month, down from February's revised estimate of 1,303,000. However, this is still 9.2% above the March 2016 rate of 1,113,000.

Single-family starts fell at a slightly less dramatic rate (down 6.2% for the month), coming in at a rate of 821,000. That's down from February's revised rate of 875,000.

More optimistically, an increase in building permits pointed to the possibility of a speedy recovery. Permits clocked in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,260,000, up 3.6% over the revised February rate of 1,216,000 and 17.0% above March 2016.

Single-family permits numbered 823,000, however, which is 1.1% below the revised February figure of 832,000.

Regionally, the Northeast was the only area of the U.S. that actually saw major month-over-month progress in March: a 12.9% boost in starts (though this is down 14.9% year-over-year).

The Midwest and West got hit the hardest since February, down 16.2% and 16.0%, respectively.

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Study: Shoppers will share personal data if it benefits them

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Despite privacy concerns, consumers will share data with companies if it saves them money or resolves customer service issues faster.

This was according to a recent study conducted by YouGov on behalf of customer experience company [24]|7, which tapped 1,145 U.S. consumers.

Nearly half (43%) of consumers agreed that they would exchange personal data with companies to save money through personalized promotions, discounts or deals, followed by 39% looking for speedier issue resolution.

Off-target messages and privacy concerns proved to be the biggest deterrents for consumers receiving personalized marketing messages, the study reported.

Cost-savings are universally seen across all age groups as the top benefit to sharing personal data — information such as e-mail, age, location, interests, previous purchases, etc. — with millennials' willingness to share data for deals (49%) slightly outranking GenXers (44%) and baby boomers (38%).

Relevancy is the primary reason consumers embrace personalized marketing messages (26%). But off-target messages irritate consumers, with a similar percentage of respondents stating that irrelevancy was on par with invasion of privacy as a major cause of annoyance.

Twenty-nine percent (29%) said irrelevant messages were the leading reason they were bothered by personalized messages. Slightly more than that (32%) cited "it felt like an invasion of privacy" as the top reason they disliked a personalized message.

Privacy concerns ranked high among consumers, with 28% stating, "I don't like it when companies have my information when I don't explicitly provide it,” when asked about their overall feeling towards companies using personalized data.

Almost half of those surveyed (47%) had higher expectations about their customer experience as a direct result of sharing personal information with companies, with age proving to be a significant factor. The younger the respondent, the higher their expectations, with over half (59%) of millennials noting the more data they share the higher the expectations for a better customer experience, followed by GenX (47%) and baby boomers (38%).

While consumers are willing to share more personal data, they are particular about when and why. For example, 22% surveyed are open to sharing personal data after buying a product or service in exchange for an improved level of customer service in the future.

Likewise, 16% would share data post-purchase to receive ongoing information from the company, and 17% only want to share information if they encounter an issue that requires resolution. However, trust continues to be a deterrent to disclosing personal data, with 27% of consumers stating they would not share their information at any point.

When it comes to which industries make the best use of their information, insurance (50%) and financial services companies (48%) use of their personal data to deliver a better experience. These two industries outperformed retail, travel and hospitality, utilities and telecommunications in consumer perception, with the telecom industry receiving the lowest ranking (38%).

"If used correctly, consumer data can play a valuable role in improving the customer experience, but this information should be used wisely to avoid alienating customers," said Scott Horn, chief marketing officer, [24]7.

"The key to a great customer experience is dependent on companies' ability to understand a consumer's true intent,” he added. “If companies understand precisely what a customer is trying to do and where their interests lie, they can deliver a more personalized interaction that doesn't feel intrusive.”

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HBSDealer Stock Watch: Stocks bounce back

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The market recovered somewhat on Monday after dragging its feet last week, rallying on bank and technology stocks.

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