Housing starts in July soared above year ago levels with 746,000 units under construction, up 21.5% from 614,000 starts in July 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau said. Still, starts fell 1.1% from 754,000 units in June.

Single-family housing starts hit 502,000 units in July, down 6.5% from 537,000 a month earlier. Construction projects with five housing units or more resulted in 229,000 starts. 

New housing construction projects completed in July also rose 7.1% to 668,000 units, up from 624,000 completions in June. Completed construction projects grew 5.4% from July of 2011 when only 634,000 units were completed.

Building permits, a measure of future construction, rose 6.8% from June to July, with 812,000 permits filed last month, compared to 760,000 in June. That figure also is up 29.5% from last year when permits reached a more modest level of 627,000.

Analysts with Econoday called the report "net positive with starts close to expectations and permits notably above."

"With recently improved homebuilder sentiment corroborating, it looks like housing is on a modest uptrend," Econoday said. "Equity futures were little changed on the news. Released at the same time, jobless claims were very close to expectations."

kpanchuk@housingwire.com