U.S. building permits, housing starts miss in March

Construction on new U.S. homes rose at the fastest rate in in three months in March, according to official data released on Wednesday, but fell from a year earlier.

Housing starts rose 2.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000, led by single-family homes, the U.S. Commerce Department said. Analysts had expected a 6.4% increase to an annual rate of 973,000, up from February’s upwardly revised rate of 0.920M.

Despite March's gain, housing starts were down 5.9% from a year earlier, the largest annual contraction since April 2011.

Building permits, an indicator of future demand for housing, fell 2.4% in March to an annual rate of 990,000, led by a drop for apartments. Market expectations had been for an increase of 0.6%

The dollar held gains against the yen following the release of the data, with USD/JPY 0.31% to 102.23.