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A report released by the Commerce Department on Thursday showed new residential construction in the U.S. unexpectedly increased in the month of November.

The Commerce Department said housing starts jumped by 1.2 percent to an annual rate of 1.547 million in November from a revised October rate of 1.528 million.

Economists had expected housing starts to come in unchanged compared to the 1.530 million originally reported for the previous month.

With the unexpected increase, housing starts reached their highest annual rate since hitting 1.567 million in February.

Multi-family housing starts led the way higher, surging up by 4.0 percent to a rate of 361,000, while single-family housing starts edged up by 0.4 percent to a rate of 1.186 million.

The report also said building permits spiked by 6.2 percent to an annual rate of 1.639 million in November from 1.544 million in October.

Building permits, an indicator of future housing demand, had been expected to rise by 0.4 percent to a rate of 1.550 million.

The sharp increase lifted the annual rate of building permits to highest level since reaching 1.655 million in September of 2006.

Single-family permits jumped by 1.3 percent to a rate of 1.143 million, while multi-family permits skyrocketed by 19.2 percent to a rate of 496,000.

Compared to the same month a year ago, housing starts in November were up by 12.8 percent and building permits were up by 8.5 percent.

On Wednesday, the National Association of Home Builders released a separate report showing homebuilder confidence pulled back off a record high in December.

The report said the NAHB Housing Market Index slid to 86 in December after climbing to 90 in November. Economists had expected the index to dip to 88.

NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz noted housing remains a bright spot for a recovering economy even as homebuilder confidence fell from historic levels.


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