Economists had expected housing starts would come in at an annualized rate of between 1.09 million and 1.2 million. When the Commerce Department reported the month-to-month rate late last month, it was 1.21 million. Single-family starts were virtually flat, up just 0.3%, but multifamily starts jumped by more than 18%. September's rate was the second highest in eight years. Economists attributed September's gain to a better job market and wage increases, which allowed potential buyers to save for down payments and spend more on housing. Builders were feeling positive, too. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose 3 points, to 64, the highest level in a decade. However, building permits fell by 5%, suggesting a slowdown in the industry lies ahead. Single-family permits dropped by 0.3% and multifamily permits were down by more than 12%.
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