Builders broke ground on more U.S. homes in March than anticipated and took out permits at the fastest pace in more than a year, a sign of growing confidence that sales will stabilize.
Housing starts climbed to an annual rate of 626,000 last month, up 1.6 percent from February’s revised 616,000 pace that was higher than initially estimated, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Building permits, a sign of future construction climbed to the highest level since October 2008.
The gain in part may be due to milder weather following the February blizzards, combined with a rush to have properties available for buyers seeking to qualify for a government tax credit that expires at the end of June. The jump in permits also signals builders anticipate demand will hold up even as foreclosures climb and the jobless rate hovers near a 26-year high.