WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- New U.S. home construction rose sharply in January compared to December but permits issued fell, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.
At an annual rate, there were an estimated 596,000 privately owned housing starts in the month, 14.6 percent higher than the revised December figure of 520,000.
Housing starts, however, were also 2.6 percent below the 612,000 starts from the same month a year ago.
The Commerce Department said there were 562,000 housing permits issued in the month, 10.4 percent below the revised December annual rate of 627,000 and 10.7 percent below the 629,000 issued in November 2010.
Both permits issued and building starts are used to predict future business, as home construction prompts sales of big-ticket durable goods, like appliances, lawn mowers and furniture.
Commerce said 512,000 privately owned housing projects were completed in November, 9.5 percent below a revised December estimate of 566,000 and 22.7 percent below January 2010 when 662,000 home project completions were recorded on an annual basis.