New construction of homes in the United States jumped in April, official data showed Wednesday, in a fresh sign of improvement in the distressed housing market.
Housing starts increased 2.6% from March, to 717,000 units, the Commerce Department said.
That was well above the average analyst forecast of 680,000 starts.
The April surge in starts marked a rebound from March, when new construction dropped a revised 2.6%.
According to the latest numbers, housing starts are almost back to the average 719,000 pace of January and February, when unseasonably warm winter weather encouraged home construction. March weather had returned to a more normal pattern.
Compared with a year ago, April housing starts were up 29.9%.
However, the department's data on building permits, an indicator of future construction, clouded the outlook.
Building permits dropped 7% in April from March, led by a steep 20.8% fall in permits for multi-unit dwellings.
The picture for single-family homes, the largest segment of the housing market, was brighter, with permits rising 1.9%.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012