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US Housing Starts Rebound Modestly in March

US housing starts rebounded modestly in March after plunging in February, a sign uneven demand continued to characterize the housing market following the harsh winter season.

Housing starts rose 2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 926,000 in March, the Commerce Department reported on Thursday. The figure was well below estimates, which called for a rebound to 1.04 million. February housing starts were revised up to 908,000 from 897,000.

Compared to March 2014, housing starts were down 2.5 percent.

Single-family housing starts, which represent the largest segment of the market, rose 4.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 618,000.

Building permits, a bellweather for future construction, declined more than forecast in March. Authorizations fell 5.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.039 million. A median estimate of economists called for a drop to 1.08 million.

Economists are still confident that momentum will return to the housing market in the coming months. On Wednesday National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said builder confidence improved faster than forecast in April, with the housing market index climbing four points to 56. All three of its major components increased in April, with future sales expectations reaching its highest level of the year.

“As the spring buying season gets underway, home builders are confident that current low interest rates and continued job growth will draw consumers to the market,” said NAHB chairman Tom Woods in a statement.

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