WASHINGTON Jan 17 Groundbreaking to build new
U.S. homes accelerated in December to its fastest pace in over
four years, supporting the view that housing is poised to
provide a substantial boost to the U.S. economy.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday that starts at
building sites for homes surged 12.1 percent last month to a
954,000-unit annual rate.
Data for U.S. housing starts can be volatile and is
sometimes subject to large revisions. The government revised
downward its estimate for November housing starts to a
851,000-unit rate from the originally reported 861,000.
Some of the strength in December's reading for starts came
from a 20.3 percent surge in multi-family unit construction.
That component is especially volatile.
Wednesday's report nonetheless builds on a trend in growth
that has led many analysts to expect residential construction
boosted the economy last year for the first time since 2005.
December's pace of groundbreaking was the fastest since June
This year, home building is expected to provide stronger
support to economic growth, which would partially counter the
drag expected from tighter fiscal policy as Washington works to
shrink the federal budget deficit.
Permits for future home construction edged higher to a
903,000-unit rate, the quickest since July 2008.
The housing market has regained some footing after a
historic collapse that helped push the economy into its worst
recession since the Great Depression.
Last month, groundbreaking for single-family homes, the
largest segment of the market, climbed 8.1 percent last month to
a 616,000-unit pace.