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Housing starts up 24.5 percent from a year ago

Builder confidence now at a 6-year high

Housing starts picked up 2.3 percent from July to August and were up 24.5 percent from August 2011, according to the latest numbers from the Census Bureau.Builders started construction on new homes and apartment units during August at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 750,000, up from 733,000 in June and 581,000 a year ago, the Census Bureau said.Single-family housing starts were up 5.5 percent from July to August, to a seasonally adjusted rate of 535,000, representing a 26.8 percent increase from last August and 52 percent above the tally's March 2009 bottom of 353,000. Housing starts have been rising on an annual basis since September 2011 and are now 57 percent above their trough in April 2009 -- 478,000 -- according to census records dating back to January 1959.Builder confidence ticked up for the fifth month in a row in September, reaching its highest level since 2006, the National Association of Home Builders reported this week.But Florida-based homebuilder and NAHB Cha...