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U.S. housing starts fall 5% in August to 571,000

U.S. housing starts fall 5% in August to 571,000 (by Jeffry Bartash)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The start of construction on new U.S. homes fell 5.0% in August to an annual rate of 571,000, but permits rose 3.2%, the government reported Tuesday. Housing starts in July were revised down to 601,000 from an original reading of 604,000, according to Commerce Department data. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected housing starts in March to drop to an annual rate of 590,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. Yet permits for new construction, viewed as a gauge of future demand, increased to an annual rate of 620,000 from 601,000 in July. It was the highest level since December. Permits for single-family homes, which account for nearly three-quarters of the housing market, rose 2.5% to an annual rate of 413,000 last month. That's the highest level since January, though new construction is still extremely weak by historical standards.