The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported this morning that new housing starts in December rose to an annual seasonally adjusted rate of 954,000, a sharp increase of 12% from the revised November rate of 851,000 and a gain of 36.9% above the December 2011 rate of 697,000,000. A consensus estimate from a survey of economists expected the rate to rise to 887,000.
The seasonally adjusted rate of new building permits rose to 903,000, which is 0.3% above the revised November rate of 900,000 and 28.8% higher than the December 2011 rate of 701,000.
Single-family housing starts jumped to an annualized rate of 616,000 in December, up 8.1% from the revised November rate of 570,000.
Permits for new single-family homes rose 1.8% in December, to an adjusted annual rate of 578,000, from a revised total of 568,000 in November.
The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) yesterday reported a third consecutive six-year high in its builder confidence index, although the index was flat month-over-month and remains below the point where builder optimism balances with builder pessimism.