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News Summary: US housing permits at 4 ½-year high

The Associated Press

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.