WASHINGTON — U.S. housing starts rose 3.5% to a 560,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate in May, the Commerce Department reported Thursday, up from a revised 541,000 rate in April.

Permits for new construction rose 8.7% to an annual rate of 612,000, up from April’s revised 563,000.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters were looking for 540,000 starts and 560,000 permits.

Single-family starts, the more important and stable indicator of the housing market, were at a rate of 419,000, above the revised April rate of 404,000.

Single-family permits were up to 405,000 from the revised 190,000 in April.

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