There was a small gain in residential construction permitting in April while housing starts rose strongly, both reversing their unexpected declines in March. Neither however has yet caught up with their year earlier numbers. The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development said permits increased by 0.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,296,000 in April, besting the upwardly revised estimate of 1,288,000 in March. The March rate was originally estimated at 1,269,000. The April number was still 5.0 percent lower than the April 2018 rate of 1,364,000.