(Dow Jones) US housing starts rose last month to the highest level in a year, a sign home builders are getting back on track after hurricane activity weighed on residential construction in September.
Housing starts increased 13.7% in October from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.290 million, the Commerce Department said Friday. Residential building permits, which can signal how much construction is in the pipeline, rose 5.9% to an annual pace of 1.297 million last month.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a 4.4% increase for starts and a 2.9% increase for permits.
Highest level in a decade
Housing starts for single-family homes in the South were at the highest level in a decade in October, rising 16.6% from September.
September starts were held down by the effects of hurricanes Irma and Harvey. They were revised up to a 1.135 million annual pace from an initial estimate of 1.127 million. September permits, which tend to be more reliable, were revised up to a 1.225 million rate from 1.215 million.
Housing-starts data are volatile from month to month and can be subject to large revisions. Looking past monthly volatility, starts in the first 10 months of the year were up 2.4% from the same period in 2016. Permits during this period increased 5.8% from a year earlier.
Home builder confidence grows
New residential construction hit a post-recession high in October 2016, but has trended lower since, and remains far below the levels attained in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.
Starts rose in October for single-family construction and increased for multi-family construction. Permits last month were up for buildings with multiple units and rose for single-family homes.
Separate data showed home builders are feeling better about the market this fall. Home-builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose this month to the highest since March, when the index touched a post-housing bubble peak, the National Association of Home Builders said Thursday.