By Jeffry Bartash
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – Construction on new U.S. homes in June rose 6.9% to an annual rate of 760,000, the highest level since October 2008, but building permits fell slightly, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Housing starts in May were revised up to 711,000 from an original reading of 708,000. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected housing starts to rise in June to an annual rate of 750,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. Permits for new construction, viewed as a gauge of future demand, edged 3.7% lower to an annual rate of 755,000 from 784,000 in May. Permits for single-family homes, which account for three-quarters of the housing market, rose a scant 0.6% to an annual rate of 493,000 last month. More than half of the increase in housing starts in June involved buildings with five or more units.