U.S. housing starts fall in May, but permits surge

By Jeffry Bartash, June 19 2012

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — U.S. builders started work on new homes in May at a slightly slower pace, but permits for future construction jumped to the highest level in nearly four years, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

Housing starts fell 4.8% last month to an annual rate of 708,000 — below the 720,000 forecast of economists surveyed by MarketWatch. The data are seasonally adjusted.

Yet construction in April was revised sharply higher to the fastest rate since October 2008. Starts in April totaled 744,000, up from an initial reading of 717,000. Housing figures are frequently revised as the government gathers more complete data from builders.

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