The report did include one cautionary sign. Permits for new homes -- an indicator of future building -- dipped 2.4 percent to 1.780 million annual pace.
Starts in the West were down 13.9 percent to a 434,000 annual rate. In the South starts rose to an 872,000 annual rate, a gain of 5.6 percent. The Midwest starts rose by 5.7 percent to a 372,000 pace.