U.S. builders broke ground in March on homes as a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.04 million -- the fastest pace in nearly five years -- on a surge in apartment construction. The gain signals further strength in the housing market ahead of the spring-buying season.
The Commerce Department says builders increased their construction pace last month 7 percent from February. The gain was driven by a 31.1 percent in volatile apartment construction.
Still, single-family home construction, which represents nearly two-thirds of the market, fell 4.8 percent March. That's down from a nearly five-year high in February.
Applications for building permits, considered a good barometer of future construction, declined 3.9 percent to an annual rate of 902,000.