U.S. housing starts jump to 15-year high

Another sign of a roaring economy. Homebuilding in the U.S. jumped 19.4% to a nearly 15-year high in March.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that housing starts surged to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.7 million units last month, surpassing economists’ estimates.

Starts bounced back sharply from the slump in February when winter storms slammed the densely-populated South.

Fueling the housing market: demand for bigger, pricier homes as Americans work and study from home amid the health crisis. And that’s helping stoke the rebounding economy, which just saw retail sales soar nearly 10% in March. Warmer weather, increasing vaccinations and massive fiscal stimulus are expected to drive economic growth to its strongest level in nearly four decades.

But soaring lumber prices amid supply constraints could pose challenges as homebuilders try to boost production and ease a shortage of homes that threatens to slow momentum in the housing market.