The U.S. housing market is showing little sign of recovery. The stock of homes available for sale stands very close to record-high levels and, as a result, new residential construction continues to contract. In February, the level of housing starts was 54% below the recent peak level and the pace of new and existing home sales was the slowest since the mid-1990s.
The inventory overhang and slow sales pace point to construction activity contracting at a double-digit annualized pace for at least the first half of 2008.
We estimate that the decline in residential construction spending will trim slightly under one percentage point from the 2008 growth rate. Weakening demand will continue to push prices lower, pointing to a mild deterioration in housing-related net worth in the quarter.
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A. Mark Argentino
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