Housing starts rose 14.6% in January to the highest rate in a few months, according to Commerce Department data. Private starts climbed to a seasonally adjusted 596,000 last month from a revised 520,000 for December. The rate remained about 2.6% below the year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected January housing starts to come in at 540,000 with a range of estimates between 510,000 and 555,000. Single-family starts fell 1% for January to 421,000 from a revised 442,000 the prior month. In a joint release, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development said permits for new construction fell 10.4% to 562,000 units, down from a revised 627,000 for December and 10.7% lower than a year earlier. The number of permits could be somewhat skewed because the rate shot up in December as builders in California, New York and Pennsylvania sought to obtain permits ahead of the scheduled changes in building codes in those states. Write to Jason Philyaw.