Single-family housing starts continued to defy gravity last month, rising to an annualized pace of 1.775 million units, a slight gain from January.According to government figures, total housing starts (single-family and multifamily) advanced to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.195 million units, or 0.5%, a new 21-year high. Economists were surprised by the increase. "The ongoing vigor of the housing sector is confounding," Greenwich Capital said in a report. "Though some moderation is overdue, with the help of firming employment and income gains, housing demand may remain robust well into the spring, unless mortgage rates move considerably higher." At MortgageWire's deadline on Wednesday, the yield on the 10-year Treasury stood at 4.47%, close to a seven-month high. Meanwhile, conventional mortgages rates continue to rise, with some lenders charging as much as 6%.

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