- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 21, 2003

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (UPI) — The housing boom continues strong, with the U.S Commerce Department reporting Tuesday that housing starts increased 5 percent for December, while building permits jumped 8 percent, reaching a record high.

According to Commerce, new starts of homes and apartments rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rare of 1.835 million, the highest level in 16 years. Of those nearly 2 million starts, 1.473 million starts were for single-family homes, also a rise of 5 percent, and the highest number in 24 years.

Building permits for future home and apartment construction hit the 1.88 million market, also the highest number in 16 years, with permits for single family homes hitting a record 1.4 million, a 3 percent rise.

Wall Street economists had expected housing starts to stay steady at around the earlier November figure of 1.69 million. Also Tuesday, November's starts were revised upward to 1.75 million from earlier Commerce estimates of 1.697 million.

Though housing starts came in higher than expected, the financial market took little solace. At midday, the markets were trading on the downside, pressured by concerns over Iraq.

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