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May 16, 2012 9:02 AM

US housing starts rose to 717,000 in April

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. builders began work on more homes last month, evidence that the battered housing market is slowly healing.

The Commerce Department says builders broke ground at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 717,000 homes in April from March. That's 2.6 percent more than March's total, which was revised higher. Construction rose for both single-family homes and apartments.

Building permits, a gauge of future construction, fell last month from a 3 ½ year high to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 715,000. But that was because of a 23 percent drop in the volatile apartment category. Permits for single-family homes rose almost 2 percent.

Even with the gains, the rate of construction and the level of permits requested remain roughly half the pace considered healthy

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