March 20, 1996 in Nation/World

Housing Starts Hit 14-Month High

From Staff And Wire Reports

Housing starts shot up to a 14-month high in February as builders rushed to pour foundations in anticipation of a surge of home buyers wanting to beat rising mortgage rates.

But some analysts said the surge likely will recede if rates continue to creep up and make home financing more expensive.

Construction of single-family homes and apartments jumped 3 percent in February, to a 1.49 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. It was the highest level since starts totaled 1.51 million in December 1994.

Starts were up in every region except the Midwest, where they suffered a double-digit decline despite improving weather.

Analysts were unable to explain the drop in what has been one of the strongest regions economically.

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