HOUSING STARTS, PERMITS RISE: U.S. builders started more houses and apartments in February and received building permits for future construction at the fastest pace in 4 ½ years.
SECOND-FASTEST: Builders broke ground at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 917,000 homes. That's the second-fastest rate since June 2008, behind December's rate of 982,000.
PERMITS REACH NEW HIGH: The gains are likely to grow even faster in the coming months. Building permits, a sign of future construction, increased 4.6 percent to 946,000. That was also the most since June 2008, just a few months into the Great Recession.