US Housing Starts Up in FebruaryThe month of February saw a jump in new housing starts and is good news for the recession-burdened housing market.
A report from the Commerce Department on Tuesday shows housing starts surged 22.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 583,000 units from 477,000 units in January. This is the largest percentage increase since January 1990.
The stock market has been up five of the last six trading days, and industry analysts see the rise in housing starts as a positive sign.
The number of new building permits that mark the future of home construction was up 3 percent to 547,000 units from 531,000 units in January. This marked the first increase in permits since April 2008. Completions rose 2.3 percent to a rate of 785,000 from January's 767,000.
The housing market played a key role in the financial and economic meltdown and when some amount of stability is restored to the sector it won't be such a drag on the economy.
Wholesale Inflation Down
US wholesale inflation dropped in February because of falling food prices and the deepening recession, says a Labor Department report.
The Labor Department said its producer price index (PPI) rose a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent in February, a big drop from the 0.8 percent increase in January. January's increase had cut a previous run of falling prices in last five months.
Most economic analysts were looking for a stronger increase of 0.4 percent PPI rise in February. On an annual rate, PPI was down 1.3 percent from February 2008.
Wholesale food prices dropped 1.6 percent, which were offset in part by the rise in energy prices of 1.3 percent. The Labor Department report says more than half of the deceleration can be traced to gasoline prices, which moved up 8.7 percent in February following a 15.0 percent jump in the previous month.
Capital goods prices rose 0.1 percent following a 0.5 percent increase in January. The deceleration included a hefty slowing of civilian aircraft prices, which rose 0.5 percent after climbing 1.0 percent the prior month.