The US economy has a pulse after all — this morning’s housing starts number (up 20% to an annual rate of 1,135,000 vs a consensus forecast of +10%) was better than expected. US consumers evidently rushed to lock in 30-year mortgage yields that dipped to 3.75% during April. The financial press trumpeted a seven-year high in housing starts, whichi is a bit deceptive. For the past three years, housing starts have been hovering around the million-a-year annual rate, roughly half the 2005-2006 peak of 2 million a year.

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