Wednesday, 18 March 2009

US housing starts rise in February

Tuesday saw another good rally in the US stock market, helped by positive data on housing. From Bloomberg:

U.S. housing starts in February unexpectedly snapped the longest streak of declines in 18 years, raising optimism the market may be finally finding a floor.

Work began on 583,000 homes at an annual rate, a 22 percent increase from January that was propelled by a surge in condominiums, apartments and townhouses, Commerce Department figures in Washington showed today...

Building permits, a sign of future construction, rose less than starts, indicating construction may again slow...

Permits increased 3 percent to a 547,000 annual pace...

Producer prices also rose in February.

The Labor Department reported wholesale prices rose 0.1 percent in February as the cost of energy products, cigarettes, light trucks and household appliances increased.

The increase was less than forecast and followed a 0.8 percent advance in January. Excluding food and fuel, so-called core prices rose 0.2 percent.

The news from Europe also showed some improvement. From Bloomberg:

German investor confidence unexpectedly rose to the highest level in almost two years in March after the European Central Bank reduced borrowing costs to a record low.

The ZEW Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim said its index of investor and analyst expectations increased to minus 3.5 from minus 5.8 in February. That’s the highest reading since July 2007. Economists expected a drop to minus 8, according to the median of 39 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey.

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