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Still more evidence of a housing recovery

July housing starts were a bit lower than expected (746K vs. 756K), but building permits—which naturally come before starts—were higher than expected (812K vs. 769K). But all it takes is a quick glance at these charts of each series to know that residential construction is well into a significant recovery. To be sure, starts and permits today are only up to the worst levels ever seen prior to the Great Recession, but look how far they've come: starts are up 44% from last year's lows, and permits are up 58% from their recession lows. That's a huge recovery on the margin.

Home builders are definitely seeing an improvement in the housing market fundamentals, and they are responding accordingly. These folks are a lot closer to the action than you and I, and they are making some serious commitments. The housing market is looking better and better, and with confidence still quite low, there is still lots of room for improvement.

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