'Homebuilders continue to caution that construction may be limited by a lack of available lots or skilled labor, but the market fundamentals suggest that demand should remain solid.' — Tom Simons, Jefferies LLC
US homebuilding activity rose slowed unexpectedly last month, official figures revealed on Friday. The Commerce Department reported that housing starts fell 5.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.09M units, the lowest since September 2016, following the preceding month's downwardly revised pace of 1.16M and falling behind analysts' expectations for decline to 1.23M-unit pace. On an annual basis, homebuilding dropped 2.4%. Single-family homebuilding fell 3.9% to a 194K-unit pace in May, the lowest in eight months, after hitting its almost 10-year high in February. The volatile-family housing sector posted a drop of 9.7% to a 298K-unit pace last month. In the meantime, building permits plunged 4.9% to a pace of 1.17M units during the reported month, compared to the prior month's pace of 1.23M units, whereas analysts anticipated an increase to a 1.25M-unit pace. Despite weak data on homebuilding, analysts suggested that employment would boost home construction in the upcoming months, taking into account the jobless rate at a record low of 4.3% and strong job creation.