- Construction on new U.S. homes rose at the fastest rate in in three months in March, according to official data released on Wednesday, but fell from a year earlier.

Housing starts rose 2.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000, led by single-family homes, the U.S. Commerce Department said. Analysts had expected a 6.4% increase to an annual rate of 973,000, up from February’s upwardly revised rate of 0.920M.

Despite March''s gain, housing starts were down 5.9% from a year earlier, the largest annual contraction since April 2011.

Building permits, an indicator of future demand for housing, fell 2.4% in March to an annual rate of 990,000, led by a drop for apartments. Market expectations had been for an increase of 0.6%

The dollar held gains against the yen following the release of the data, with USD/JPY 0.31% to 102.23.

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