Housing market posts best stretch of growth in nearly four years

Via Market Watch:

U.S. builders started construction of new homes in April at a slightly faster pace, extending their best stretch of business in almost four years, according to data released on Wednesday.

Housing starts rose 2.6% to an annual rate of 717,000 last month, compared to March’s sharply revised figure of 699,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday..

Builders are increasingly hopeful about the upcoming months. While permits fell 7% in April to 717,000, March permits were revised up to 769,000 — the highest level since September 2008. Permits for new construction are viewed as a barometer of future demand.

Optimism among builders was also evident in another survey released Tuesday. The index of builder confidence, compiled by the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo, rose to the highest level since May 2007.