Data released by the Commerce Department on Thursday showed that the housing market remains vulnerable. The government said that housing starts declined 1.1% in July, falling to a seasonally adjusted rate of 746,000 units a year.
That surprised economists, who had predicted an annual rate of 757,000 units, Reuters noted.
Single-family home starts fell sharply in July, down 6.5%, while multifamily starts jumped 12.4%.
Prior months’ housing start numbers were also restated. June’s numbers were cut from an annual pace of 760,000 units, down to 754,000 units, and May’s reading was cut to an annual pace of 706,000 units.
On the positive side, permits for new homes jumped 6.8% last month, hitting an annualized pace of 812,000 units. That was the highest pace for new permits in almost four years.
The news boosted homebuilder stocks. Shares of Ryland (NYSE:RYL), D.R. Horton (NYSE:DHI) and Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) all rose about 3% in Thursday midday trading.