A big increase in multi-family unit groundbreaking was the impetus for a surge in housing starts in September that was at the fastest pace in 17 months. The Commerce Department said that housing starts increased 15.0% to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 658,000 units. Analysts had only estimated a 590,000 unit rate.
Housing starts for buildings with two or more units rose 51.3% to a 233,000 unit rate. Single family home construction, which accounts for a larger share of the market, increased 1.7% to a 425,000 unit pace. On the inflation front, another report showed that consumers paid more for food and gas last month.