Groundbreaking on new U.S. homes rose more than expected in June to its fastest pace in almost four years, government figures showed on Wednesday.
Housing starts, the number of new homes and apartments being built, rose 6.9 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 760,000 units, from an upwardly revised 711,000 in May, the U.S. Commerce Department said. That was the highest rate since October 2008 and topped the 745,000 rate economists polled by Reuters had forecast.
Over the past 12 months, housing starts are up 23.6 percent.
Construction of single-family houses advanced 4.7 percent to a 539,000 rate, the fastest since April 2010, from 515,000 a month earlier.
Work on multi-family homes, which include townhouses and apartment buildings, increased 12.8 percent to an annual rate of 221,000 in June from 196,000 a month earlier.
Two of four regions saw an increase in overall starts in June, including a 36.9 percent jump in the West to a 219,000 annual rate, the fastest since April 2008. Starts climbed 22.2 percent in the Northeast.
Building permits, a proxy for future demand, fell 3.7 percent to 755,000 in June from 784,000 in May, dragged down by a 11.4 percent decline in requests to construct multi-dwelling buildings with five units or more.
Permits for single-family homes, which account for about three-quarters of the market for new housing, rose 0.6 percent in June from 490,000 in the prior month.
Over the past 12 months, housing starts are up 19.3 percent.
Sentiment among home builders surged in July by the most since September 2002, the National Association of Home Builders said on Tuesday.
The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index climbed by 6 points in July to 35, handily beating economists' expectations for a reading of 30.
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