US housing starts will be slow and steady: CFO

Despite recent soft data, the U.S. house building market will recover to its former glory at a slow and steady pace, according to the chief financial officer of the world’s largest brick maker.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported last week that housing starts in the country had fallen to their lowest level in a year in February after cold weather hit most of the northwest of the country. Willy Van Riet, the CFO Wienerberger told CNBC Thursday that he was confident of a rebound despite the setback.

“If you look at the U.S. they are now at 1 million housing starts for the whole of the U.S. market. We have been at 2 million and we need to satisfy the demand of about 1.5 million so there’s still a huge potential to go for,” he said.

New home sales construction

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“You don’t have to look at temporary things, house-building is a longer process. It’s a bit later in the (economic) cycle as well because you need consumer confidence for people to engage in buying or building a house. So we are pretty confident we will get in in at lower numbers not a spike.”

U.S data has hit a soft patch at the start of this year. JPMorgan highlighted this week that the gap between downward surprises on U.S. data and upward surprises on European numbers has been at its widest since February 2014.

Housing starts fell to seasonally adjusted annual pace of 897,000 units last month, according to the Commerce Department said on Tuesday. Meanwhile, January’s starts were revised up to a 1.08 million-unit rate.

Van Riet was optimistic for the global market in general, telling CNBC that he saw more demand and consumer confidence. He conceded that the recovery across Europe had been “patchy”.

“We see a gradual pickup from very low levels but we see it steady,” he said.

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