Home-building pace highest in 5 years
WASHINGTON — U.S. builders broke ground on homes at the fastest pace in more than five years, strong evidence that the housing recovery is accelerating despite higher mortgage rates.
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that developers began construction on houses and apartments in November at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.09 million. That’s 23 percent more than October’s pace of 889,000 and the fastest since February 2008, just a few months after the recession began.
Construction of single-family homes jumped 21 percent to an annual pace of 727,000, also the highest in more than five years. Apartment construction soared 26 percent to a 354,000 annual pace.
Permits for future building slipped 3 percent to just more than 1 million, down from 1.04 million in October. The drop reflected a decline in apartments, which can be volatile. Permits for single-family homes rose.
Former BP drilling engineer convicted
NEW ORLEANS — The first criminal trial produced by the Justice Department’s sweeping probe of BP’s massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico ended Wednesday with a jury convicting a drilling engineer of trying to obstruct investigators by deleting text messages from his cellular phone.
Kurt Mix, a former BP employee who worked on the company’s efforts to stop the nation’s worst offshore oil spill, embraced stunned relatives and friends after jurors convicted him of an obstruction-of-justice charge punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The jury acquitted Mix of a second count of the same charge.
Mix declined to be interviewed, but his attorneys vowed to fight his conviction – a major milestone in an investigation that already has resulted in a guilty plea by BP itself.