Housing starts increased to a seasonally adjusted 549,000 in March as building permits jumped to 594,000, the highest level in four months, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

February’s housing starts were revised higher to 512,000 from 479,000 reported last month. Building permits in February were revised to 534,000 from 517,000.

Economists expected 520,000 housing starts and 540,000 building permits, according to the median estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Building permits increased in every region except the Northeast where they were flat for the month. Housing starts increased in all regions except the South.

The December jump in building permits was partially due to building code changes in three states that encouraged builders to acquire permits before the end of the year. Excluding the December figure, the March building permits figure was the largest in 11 months.

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