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New construction slows further

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The U.S. Commerce Department announced housing starts fell 2.6 percent in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.331 million units, compared with a downwardly revised figure of 1.367 million units in July.

Year-over-year, new housing starts were down 19 percent, with single-family starts off 27 percent.

It was the lowest pace for housing starts since the June 1995 rate of 1.281 million units, according to the Commerce Department.

Building permits also fell, 5.9 percent to an annual rate of 1.307 million, also the lowest since June 1995.

The decline in construction last month took place exclusively in single-family homes, where starts fell 7.1 percent to 988,000. Multi-family housing starts rose 12.8 percent last month to 343,000.

Single-family starts were down in all regions of the United States, falling 20 percent in the Northeast, 18 percent in the West, 3 percent in the Midwest and 1 percent in the South.

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PPG to sell fine chemicals business

BY HBSDEALER Staff

PPG, the conglomerate that includes Pittsburgh Paint-maker PPG Architectural Coatings, will sell its specialty chemicals business for $65 million to Milan, Italy-based ZaCh System.

Charles Bunch, CEO and chairman of PPG, said the divestiture will allow the company to focus on its goal of becoming the “leading coatings and specialty products and services company.” PPG currently is the 45th largest home improvement retailer in the United States, according to HCN’s top 500 list of home channel retailers.

“Following last week’s announcement of our potential divestiture of our auto glass businesses, this transaction is yet another step toward achieving PPG’s vision,” Bunch said.

PPG facilities included in the agreement are a pharmaceutical fine chemicals plant in LaPorte, Texas, and the PPG-Sipsy facility in Avrille, France.

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Foreclosures up 36 percent month-over-month

BY HBSDEALER Staff

According to the real estate research firm RealtyTrac, new foreclosures rose 36 percent in August compared with July to 243,947 filings, including default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions. The rate of foreclosures was at one foreclosure notice for every 510 households.

Nevada had the highest rate of foreclosures at 6,197, up 21 percent from July. That number represents one foreclosure notice for every 165 households. Six California cities had among the 10 highest rates of foreclosure filings in August, led by Modesto at one for every 79 households.

But California still had the most foreclosures overall, at 57,875, a 48 percent surge from last month. The foreclosure rate in California was one notice for every 224 households.

Foreclosures in Florida were up 77 percent to 33,932, or a rate of one notice for every 243 households.

“The jump in foreclosure filings [in August] might be the beginning of the next wave of increased foreclosure activity, as a large number of subprime adjustable rate loans are beginning to reset now,” said James Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac.

“Another significant factor in the increased level of foreclosure activity is that the number of REO filings (bank repossessions) is increasing dramatically, which means that a greater percentage of homes entering foreclosure are going back to the banks.”

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