U.S. homebuilding hits 12-year high

WASHINGTON — U.S. homebuilding in August reached its highest level of activity since 2007, an indication that the housing market is responding positively to lower mortgage rates. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, housing starts for the month soared by 12.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.364 million units, with construction of both single- and multi-family dwellings picking up speed. July’s estimate was revised upward to a rate of 1.215 million units, a more modest decline than the initially reported 1.191 million units. In a Reuters poll, economists estimated housing starts would climb to 1.25 million units. The value of building permits in August rose 7.7% to a rate of 1.419 million units, the highest since May 2007. Year-over year, housing starts were up 6.6%.