The fastest pace of apartment building in seven years pushed up new housing construction by 2.6 percent in April.
Housing starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.47 million units, the Commerce Department said Friday. That followed a sharp 7.7 percent drop in March and a 13 percent jump in February.
In advance, economists were looking for starts of 1.42 million units in April. The better-than-expected performance spooked inflation-sensitive financial markets. The Dow Jones average of industrial stocks dropped nearly 139 points as investors took profits from the market’s recent runup.
In other reports this week:
The government said consumer prices increased just 0.1 percent in April, but when volatile food and energy prices are excluded, prices were up 0.3 percent last month.
Prices paid to producers - from farms to factories - fell 0.6 percent in April, thanks partly to falling energy and food costs.
The Commerce Department said retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent last month, the largest drop in 10 months.