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US home construction climbed 5.7% in April

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2019, file photo, construction workers build new housing in Salisbury, Mass. On Thursday, May 16, the Commerce Department reports on U.S. home construction in April.
FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2019, file photo, construction workers build new housing in Salisbury, Mass. On Thursday, May 16, the Commerce Department reports on U.S. home construction in April. AP Photo

U.S. home construction rose in April, led by an uptick in single-family homes.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that homebuilding rose 5.7% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.24 million. But housing starts fell 2.5% from a year earlier, suggesting that would-be home buyers are facing a shortage of new houses.

Construction of single-family homes increased 6.2% to 854,000 but was down 4.3% from a year earlier. Building of apartments and condominiums rose 2.3% to 359,000 and was up 1.4% from April 2018.

From March to April, housing starts surged 84.6% in the Northeast and 42% in the Midwest. Analysts at Contingent Macro Advisors noted that both regions "saw a rebound following harsh winter weather." But construction fell 5.7% in the South and 5.5% in the West. The regional construction numbers can jump around from month to month.

Housing permits, an indicator of future activity, rose 0.6% to 1.3 million, the first uptick since December. Permits were down 5% from April 2018. Single-family home permits skidded 4.2% in April from March and were down 9.4% from a year earlier.

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