REPORT: US home construction took a knock in October
Construction of new homes fell slightly in October after a big surge in the previous month, but the weakness was largely driven by the volatile apartment sector, says a report by the Associated Press.
Builders started construction at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.009 million last month, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. That was a drop of 2.8 percent from September when construction had jumped 7.8 percent to 1.038 million.
According to reports, the weakness stemmed from a 15.4 percent plunge in apartment construction, a category that notoriously has big swings from month to month. Construction of single-family homes was up 4.2 percent, the third gain in the past four months, however.
And it is not all doom and gloom, applications for building permits - a good sign of future activity - also rose 4.8 percent in October to 1.08 million.
While overall construction was down in October, analysts said the weakness was confined to apartment building, which had seen a huge increase in September. They noted upward revisions to overall activity in September and August and forecast further gains in the months ahead.
“The improving trend should continue, supported by generally low rates and strong job growth,” said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, speaking to AP.
Showing strength in October was the South, which posted a 10.1 percent jump on construction starts. All other regions of the country recorded declines. Construction fell 18.5 percent in the Midwest, 16.4 percent in the Northeast and 10.9 percent in the West.
Solid employment gains, lower mortgage rates and somewhat easier lending standards are likely to boost housing in coming months. At the same time, economists are concerned about price gains, which so far have been outpacing wage increases.
Price increases have cut into affordability for would-be buyers, limiting sales growth for new homes and cutting into sales for existing homes.
But in an encouraging sign, U.S. homebuilders' confidence rebounded in November as both sales expectations and buyer traffic improved. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index rose to 58 this month, up from 54 in October.
That puts the index just short of September's reading of 59, which was the highest level since November 2005, shortly before the housing bubble burst. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good rather than poor.
uPVC pipes, safety glasses and Spetz app launched
This week has seen a range of new product and service launches for the construction trade.
Vinyl Pipes has launched uPVC Column Pipes, which extend the life of pipes. Column Pipes with a power lock (patent pending) will not only to raise the safety standards but improve the efficiency of Borewell installations. This Lock system, a by-product of the in-house R&D team, is designed to bear load making the pipes stress-free, torque resistant and perfect for handling high pressure water.
Conscious that using the correct glasses could prevent 90% of jobsite injuries, Milwaukee's expanded range (pictured) features anti-scratch and fog free styles, new lens colours and magnification features, complementing its 'cut resistant' gloves.
Arriving on the UK app scene, Spetz is billed as a ‘one-stop shop’ for anyone "panicked by household flooding or electricity failure," as it unites tradespeople with consumers.
Spetz founder and CEO Yossi Nevo said urgent needs come in all forms and it’s unlikely that any household has tried and trusted tradespeople to match every possibility.
"The Spetz app rapidly connects them with a suitable ‘rescue service’ in as little as 30 seconds and that rapid reassurance is completely free - it’s the tradespeople who pay for these job leads. Those start at around £6 a time, but the tradesperson can then go on to make thousands from our automated system funnelling the best and most appropriate work their way.”
Spetz is now three years old operating in Israel, Australia and is now beginning a full UK rollout, after a ‘soft’ launch.