Housing starts (chart) for April dipped 0.2% month-over-month (m/m) to an annual pace of 1,724,000 units, below the Bloomberg consensus estimate of a 1,756,000 unit pace, and compared to March’s downwardly-revised pace of 1,728,000 units. Building permits, one of the leading indicators tracked by the Conference Board as it is a gauge of future construction, fell by 3.2% m/m to an annual rate of 1,819,000, slightly above expectations calling for 1,814,000 units, and compared to the downwardly-revised 1,870,000 unit pace in March.
In other housing news, the MBA Mortgage Application Index fell 11.0% last week, following the prior week’s increase of 2.0%. The index snapped a string of two weekly increases as a 9.5% fall in the Refinance Index was met with an 11.9% tumble for the Purchase Index. However, the average 30-year mortgage rate pulled back from a recent spike, declining 4 basis points (bps) to 5.49%, but is up 234 bps versus a year ago.