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Housing starts hovering near 4-year high

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U.S. housing starts continued a steady 2012 year-over-year upswing in November, hovering at a level not seen since 2008, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 861,000, housing starts dipped 3 percent from October to November, but were up 21.6 percent from a year ago. That's still less than half the level seen during the mid-2000s peak, but builder confidence is growing, too, approaching levels not seen since the housing bubble. After rising for the eighth month in a row in December, an index measuring builder confidence is at its highest level since April 2006, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported this week. "Builders across the country are reporting some of the best sales conditions they've seen in more than five years, with more serious buyers coming forward and a shrinking number of vacant and foreclosed properties on the market," although ti...