Construction on new U.S. homes rose in July at the fastest pace since before the Great Recession, offering further proof that the housing market continues to gain strength. Housing starts edged up 0.2% to an annual rate of 1.21 million last month, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That's the highest rate since October 2007, two months before the last recession began. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected starts to total a seasonally adjusted 1.19 million. Starts for June were also revised up to a 1.20 million pace from 1.17 million. Yet permits for new construction, a sign of future demand, fell 16.3% to an annual rate of 1.12 million. Still, permits are 7.5% higher compared to one year ago. Permits for single-family homes, which account for almost three-quarters of the housing market, slipped 1.9% to an annual rate of 679,000 last month.
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