- Housing starts rose 5.2% in February to a 1.18 million annualized rate, up from the revised 1.12 million rate in January, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. February housing starts were a whopping 30.9% higher than in February 2015.
- New applications for building permits, which predict future construction activity, dropped 3.1% last month but were 6.3% higher than February 2015.
- Single-family construction saw the strongest gain in February, at 7.2%, and multifamily rose 2.4%. Total February housing starts reached their highest level in five months.
February housing starts beat expectations, as economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicted results for the month would be closer to 1.15 million.
Experts cited job growth in the U.S. as a motivation for people to feel more comfortable making the major purchase of a home. The strong single-family showing signaled "continued confidence in demand for residential real-estate," according to Bloomberg.
Nearly all U.S. regions saw housing start gains last month, with the exception of the Northeast, where starts plummeted 51.3%. Experts attributed that steep decline to above-average precipitation in the region in February.
The rise in February housing starts comes one day after the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index reported no change in the homebuilder confidence this month, which signaled the "U.S. housing market could be stabilizing after a soft start to the year," according to the NAHB.
Toda's report will be followed by the existing home sales report on March 21 and the new home sales report on March 23.