WASHINGTON -- New housing starts fell 3% in November from the previous month as Superstorm Sandy kept builders from breaking ground in the Northeast, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
But the number of building permits issued, a sign of future activity, rose 3.6% last month compared with October. It was the highest level in more than four years and an indication that the housing market is continuing its strong rebound despite Sandy's effects.
Compared with a year earlier, housing starts and building permits were up sharply.
Construction began on new privately owned residential homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 861,000 in November, down from a revised rate of 888,000 in October. The reading was below analysts' expectations of a drop to about an 872,000 annual pace.
Starts dropped 5.2% in the Northeast, which was hit hard by Sandy on Oct. 29-30. Starts also fell 19.2% in the West, but were up 3.3% in the Midwest and 2.9% in the South.