September housing starts up 15 percent on multi-family

WASHINGTON Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:01pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. housing starts surged in September at their fastest annual pace in 17 months on a big increase in groundbreaking for multi-family units, while permits for future construction fell, a government report showed on Wednesday.

The Commerce Department said housing starts increased 15.0 percent to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 658,000 units. That blew away analysts' forecasts of an increase to a 590,000-unit rate.

Housing starts for buildings with two or more units rose 51.3 percent to a 233,000-unit rate. Single-family home construction -- which accounts for a larger share of the market -- increased 1.7 percent to a 425,000-unit pace.

(Reporting by Jason Lange, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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