Builders broke ground in December on the most single-family homes in almost seven years, propelling an unexpectedly large gain in U.S. housing starts that signals construction will contribute more to economic growth in 2015.
Work began on 728,000 houses at an annual rate, a 7.2 percent increase from November and the most since March 2008, a Commerce Department report showed Wednesday in Washington. Total housing starts, which include apartments, climbed 4.4 percent to a 1.09 million pace.
The improvement in single-family construction at year-end signals the industry is beginning to focus on the biggest part of the market, perhaps encouraged by gains in employment and consumer confidence that make Americans more likely to marry and have children. Historically low borrowing costs and more access to credit would raise the odds that a household will decide to buy a property rather than rent.