I've been reluctant to call an end to the US housing boom, but it does look more and more like we are at or near the top. Reuters reports the October housing starts data:
A sharp drop in U.S. housing starts and permits for new building in October pointed to some cooling in the red-hot real estate market... [T]he Commerce Department said housing starts fell 5.6 percent to a 2.014 million unit annual rate, while permits for future groundbreaking fell 6.7 percent -- the biggest decline in six years.
Industrial output, on the other hand, is holding up well.
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index fell to 11.5 in November from 17.3 in October, but the number tends to fluctuate from month to month... A separate report from the Federal Reserve showed a 0.9 percent rebound in industrial output from U.S. factories, mines and utilities in October. It was the fastest rate since May 2004.
The employment picture isn't too bad either.
[T]he number of U.S. workers filing for initial jobless claims fell sharply last week, hitting the lowest level since April and fully recovering from the impact of the recent hurricanes. First-time claims for state unemployment insurance benefits dropped 25,000 to 303,000 last week, the Labor Department said, below expectations, and suggesting the next payroll employment report could top 200,000.
Europe's industrial output, however, slowed in September.
Seasonally adjusted industrial production fell by 0.4% in the euro-zone in September 2005 compared to August. Production increased by 0.8% in August and by 0.1% in July. Output in the EU25 remained stable in September 2005, after increases of 0.4% in August and of 0.1% in July.
But in the UK, retail sales continue to recover, although at some expense to margins.
Retail sales rose for the third month running in October, indicating the sector may be recovering after a sharp slowdown earlier in the year. The Office for National Statistics said on Thursday sales rose 0.2 percent last month... Prices were on average 1.1 percent lower than a year earlier, the biggest decline since February.
The European Commission thinks the continent's recovery remains on track, according to this FT report.
Europe's economy is accelerating out of its recent trough, according to new forecasts from Brussels, but stubborn inflation and high government borrowing could hasten an early interest rate rise in the eurozone.
Resurgent domestic demand should help to drive growth in the European Union from 1.5 per cent this year to 2.1 per cent in 2006 and 2.4 per cent in 2007, the European Commission said.
And Asia also seems to be re-accelerating, with good growth from both Singapore:
Singapore's economy sprinted to a better-than-expected 7.0 percent expansion in the third quarter, prompting the government Thursday to up its 2005 growth target to 5.0 percent... The September quarter's growth acceleration was the economy's best showing in four quarters and well ahead of the second quarter's 5.4 percent. On a quarter-on-quarter basis, gross domestic product (GDP) grew 7.1 percent, after the previous gain of 19 percent.
...Singapore's key non-oil domestic exports (NODX) [was] up 9.8 percent in October, coming in well above forecasts on the back of stronger electronics orders.
Taiwan's economy expanded in the third quarter at the fastest pace in a year as a pickup in global electronics demand boosted exports and falling unemployment spurred spending at home.
Gross domestic product rose 4.4 percent from a year earlier after climbing 3 percent in the second quarter, according to an official who asked not to be identified... The statistics bureau raised its 2005 growth forecast to 3.8 percent from 3.65 percent, he said.