New housing construction unexpectedly rose in August to the highest level in five months, as builders started work on more apartment buildings and other multifamily homes, according to the Commerce Department.

Housing starts rose 0.4% last month, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.68 million units. Analysts had expected a 2% decline, to a 1.63 million-unit pace.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.