New U.S. housing starts and permits unexpectedly fell to record lows in April, a government report showed on Tuesday, denting hopes that stability in the housing market was imminent.
The Commerce Department said housing starts fell 12.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 458,000 units, the lowest on records dating back to January 1959, from March's upwardly revised 525,000 units. Compared to the same period last year, housing starts tumbled 54.2 percent.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected an annual rate of 520,000 units for April.
New building permits, which give a sense of future home construction, dropped 3.3 percent to 494,000 units, the lowest since records started in January 1960, from 511,000 units in March. That was well below analysts' estimates of 530,000 units. Compared to the same period a year-ago, building permits plunged 50.2 percent.
Building completions rose 4.9 percent to 874,000 units.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani, Editing by Andrea Ricci)