WASHINGTON — Groundbreaking for new U.S. home construction was up 1.5% in August to 598,000, as private housing permits increased 2.7% to 579,000, according to Commerce Department data released yesterday.

The 598,000 figure for private housing starts followed an upwardly revised 589,000 figure the previous month, initially reported as 581,000. But it was lower than the 600,000 level predicted by a median estimate of economists polled by Thomson Reuters.

Meanwhile, the 579,000 level of private-housing building permits came after an upwardly revised 564,000 figure, which was originally reported as 560,000. Economists had estimated 580,000 in building permits.

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