WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - After reporting a sharp pullback in new residential construction in the U.S. in the previous month, the Commerce Department released a report on Tuesday showing housing starts rebounded in the month of March.
The report said housing starts jumped by 1.9 percent to an annual rate of 1.319 million in March after tumbling by 3.3 percent to a revised 1.295 million in February.
Economists had expected housing starts to increase by 2.1 percent to a rate of 1.262 million from the 1.236 million originally reported for the previous month.
The rebound in housing starts came as a spike in multi-family starts more than offset a decrease in single-family starts.
Multi-family starts soared by 14.4 percent to a rate of 452,000, while single-family starts fell by 3.7 percent to a rate of 867,000.
The Commerce Department also said building permits surged up by 2.5 percent to an annual rate of 1.354 million in March after slumping by 4.1 percent to a revised 1.321 million in February.
Building permits, an indicator of future housing demand, had been expected to climb by 1.9 percent to a rate of 1.323 million from the 1.298 million originally reported for the previous month.
While single-family building permits slumped by 5.5 percent to a rate of 840,000, the decrease was more than offset by a 19 percent jump in multi-family permits to a rate of 514,000.
Compared to the same month a year ago, housing starts in February were up by 10.9 percent and building permits were up by 7.5 percent.
On Monday, the National Association of Home Builders released a separate report unexpectedly showing a modest drop in homebuilder confidence in the month of April.
The report said the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index edged down to 69 in April from 70 in March. Economists had expected the index to come in unchanged.
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