APPLIANCES Still a waiting and wishing game in housing starts

Aug 01, 2007 | 07:03 AM |

The freeze in the housing market has had a chilling effect on the amount of steel being consumed for use in major appliances like refrigerators and stoves. The number of new homes being built doesn't tell the whole story, however, being just one element affecting appliance market health.

To get a better read on the appliance market, ArcelorMittal managers point to multiple sources.

"There are at least three factors that drive major appliance sales the housing starts, the replacement market and the remodeling market," Amy Ebben, marketing analyst at ArcelorMittal, said. "The housing is easiest to watch. It has hard and fast stats."

U.S. Census Bureau data shows housing starts fell between 30 and 35 percent in the first quarter compared with the first three months of 2006, she said. But major appliance sales in the United States were down just 6.6 percent through May vs. the first five months of last year, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. "That shows the other markets have remained fairly strong," Ebben said.....

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