WASHINGTON — Housing starts rose 3.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 894,000 in October from a revised estimate of 863,000 in September, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

September starts were originally reported as 872,000. October building permits fell 2.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 866,000 from the previous month's rate of 890,000, originally reported as 894,000.

October housing starts far exceeded the 840,000 projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters, and were 41.9% above the October 2011 rate of 630,000. The 894,000 annual unit pace was the highest since a 923,000 mark in July 2008.

Building permits nearly matched the economists' median projection of 865,000, and were 29.8% above the estimate of 667,000 a year ago.

Housing starts slipped 6.5% in the Northeast and 2.5% in the South, but those setbacks were more than offset by monthly gains of 17.2% in the West and 8.9% in the Midwest.

Building permits increased 4.1% in the Midwest and 0.7%in the South, but plunged 12.5% in the Northeast and 10.7% in the West. The Commerce Department issued a statement on the effect of Hurricane Sandy, but said the impact was likely "minimal."

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