Construction of new homes, helped by better weather, rebounded in November following a setback in the previous month.
The gain is a hopeful sign that the housing recovery is continuing, a development viewed as critical to lifting the overall economy out of recession.
The Commerce Department says construction of new homes and apartments rose 8.9 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 574,000 units. The gain represented strength in all areas of the country although the increase was slightly lower than economists had expected.
Applications for new building permits were also up, rising 6 percent to an annual rate of 584,000 units, a stronger showing than economists predicted.