Single-family housing starts rose 0.4% in August to a near-record 1.667 million units on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, according to figures released Sept. 21 by the Commerce Department.The increase reflects activity from July to August. Compared with starts in the same month a year ago, new housing starts rose 11.6%. Commenting on the robust number, Greenwich Capital analyst Steve Stanley said, "I do not know when we are going to learn. We repeatedly underestimate the vigor and resilience of housing demand. In August, we believed that there was underlying strength but suspected that the weather might have caused a temporary slowing in groundbreaking. As it turns out, neither wind nor rain nor flooding can keep the homebuilder from completing his or her appointed rounds." Total starts, including multifamily construction, measured 2.06 million units. The Commerce number was released a day after the National Association of Home Builders said builder confidence "edged down" in August. The Commerce Department can be found online at http://www.doc.gov.

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