The U.S. home building industry beat market forecasts in January, as housing starts rose 14.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 596,000 units — the highest level since September 2010, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report .
Forecasts for January ranged from 520,000 units (MarketWatch survey ) to 539,000 units (Bloomberg News survey ), showing that builders had a significantly better month than economists had expected.
Single-family housing starts in January were at a rate of 413,000, 1 percent below the revised December figure of 417,000. The January rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 171,000.
The news was not all positive, however. Building permits fell 10.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 562,000, following a 15 percent jump in December. Single-family authorizations in January were at a rate of 421,000, 4.8 percent below December.
For more, download the PDF report from the Commerce Dept.