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Housing starts rose in February, led by single-family homes

U.S. home building jumped in February likely as unseasonably warm weather boosted the construction of single family homes to near a 9-1/2-year high, suggesting the economy remained on solid ground despite an apparent slowdown in the first quarter.

Other data on Thursday showed a drop in the number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits last week, pointing to a further tightening in the labor market.

The fairly upbeat data came a day after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the third time since the 2008 financial crisis. Fed Chair Janet Yellen told reporters that the U.S. central bank was sending a message that “we have confidence in the robustness of the economy and its resilience to shocks.”

Housing starts increased 3.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.29 million units last month, the Commerce Department said. Economists had forecast groundbreaking activity rising to a rate of 1.26 million units.

Home building was up 6.2 percent compared to February 2016.

The single family homes, account for the largest share of the residential housing market, surged 6.5 percent to a pace of 872,000 units last month, the highest level since October 2007. Single family homes starts rose in the West, Northeast and Midwest, but fell in the South. So if you are looking for single family homes for sale, the right time is now.

Starts for the volatile multi-family housing segment fell 3.7 percent to a pace of 416,000 units.

A robust labor market is supporting the single family homes housing market, helping it to buck weakness in other parts of the economy.

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