U.S. builders started more homes in February and permits for future construction rose at the fastest pace in 41/2 years. The increases point to a housing recovery that is gaining strength.
The Commerce Department said Tuesday that builders broke ground on houses and apartments last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 917,000. That’s up from 910,000 in January. And it’s the second-fastest pace since June 2008, behind December’s rate of 982,000. Single-family home construction increased to an annual rate of 618,000, the most in 41/2 years. Apartment construction also ticked up, to 285,000. Separately, a private report showed the number of Americans with equity in their homes increased last year.