|The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in November rose 22.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,091,000 units. Single-family starts increased 20.8%. Volatile multifamily starts rose 26.8%. Compared to the previous year, November housing starts were up 29.6%. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,007,000 units, 7.9% above the November 2012 estimate of 933,000 units.
The monthly National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing market index rose four points in November to 58. This reading ends three months of slowing and matches a recovery best first posted in August. An index reading above 50 indicates positive sentiment about the housing market.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending December 13 fell 5.5%. Purchase volume fell 6%. Refinancing applications decreased 4%.
Existing home sales fell 4.3% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.9 million units. Compared to a year ago, November existing home sales were down 1.2%. The inventory of unsold existing homes on the market fell 0.9% to 2.09 million in November, a 5.1-month supply at the current sales pace.
The Commerce Department announced that gross domestic product — the total output of goods and services produced in the U.S. — increased at an annual rate of 4.1% in the third quarter of 2013, up from an earlier estimate of 3.6%. This follows a 2.5% pace of growth in the second quarter of 2013.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending December 14 rose by 10,000 to 379,000. Continuing claims for the week ending December 7 rose by 94,000 to 2.884 million. The less volatile four-week average of claims for unemployment benefits was 343,500.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on consumer sentiment on December 23 and new home sales on December 24.