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Housing starts climbed back to the highest pace of the year in August, reaching a seasonably adjusted annual rate of 2 million units, the U.S. Commerce Department reported.

The 2-million-unit pace, which matched the pace set in March, was 0.6 percent above July's upwardly revised rate of 1.988 million. Total housing starts were up by 10.4 percent on a year-to-date basis.

Issuance of total building permits decreased 5.5 percent from the upwardly revised July pace to a seasonably adjusted rate of 1.952 million units. However, permits are up by 10 percent on a year-to-date basis.

For the month, single-family housing starts increased 0.4 percent to a pace of 1.667 million. This was an 11.6 percent increase over the August 2003 pace. Multifamily housing starts increased to a seasonally adjusted rate of 333,000 units, 1.5 percent above the July pace, but 2.3 percent below a year earlier.

Construction of new homes and apartments increased across all regions but the West for the month.

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