U.S. homebuilding jumped in February as unseasonably warm weather boosted the construction of single-family houses to near a 9-1/2-year high, suggesting the economy remained on solid ground despite an apparent slowdown in the first quarter.
The economy’s fundamentals were further strengthened by other data on Thursday showing a drop in the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week amid a tightening labor market. Though factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region cooled this month, manufacturers reported growth in new orders and difficulties finding qualified workers.
The data came a day after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the third time since the 2008 financial crisis. Fed Chair Janet Yellen told reporters that the U.S. central bank was sending a message that “we have confidence in the robustness of the economy and its resilience to shocks.”
“The reports painted a mostly upbeat picture of the economy,” said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan in New York.