New-home construction rose 22.2 percent in February, compared to January, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 583,000 units.
Applications for building permits, which are considered a good measure of future building, rose 3 percent in February to an annual rate of 547,000.
Both increases surprised analysts who had predicted further downturns. Housing construction is still down 47.3 percent from a year ago.
However, builders remained pessimistic about their businesses. The National Association of Home Builders’ index of builder sentiment is at 9, one point above the all-time low reached in January. Numbers lower than 50 indicate a negative outlook about the market.
Source: www.realtor.org/The Associated Press, Jeannine Aversa (03/17/2009)