Housing permits and starts were strong across the board in July, with single-family starts leading the way, up 12.8% off an already elevated June level. Housing permits declined in July, with single-family permits down 1.9% and multi-family permits down a scary-sounding 31.8%. Multi-family starts were down 17.0%. However, the permit and multi-family starts declines all came off quite elevated June levels, so that July levels for all these indicators were still well above the prevailing levels of 2014. It is also worth noting in passing that the vast bulk of the July decline in multi-family permits came from the Northeast, where a tax benefit expired after having elevated permits in May and June. We have been downbeat on the US economy this year, emphasizing the manufacturing softening that looks still to be in place. However, we have had to acknowledge that housing in particular, and, lately, construction in general have worked to offset much of the drag on growth from manufacturing. After no growth in 2013 and most of 2014, housing construction started rising in late-2014, and today’s data for July suggest further increases in housing activity in the second half of 2015. Now, as seen in the accompanying chart, single-family permits and new-home sales have not as yet attained levels that would confirm the recent gains in starts. Furthermore, US owner-occupancies continue to decline, suggesting that most of the demand for new housing is speculative. Still, there is no arguing with the fact that today’s news is bullish for homebuilding activity in the second half of 2015.