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Home building climbs 12.3%

in August

to 12-year high

WASHINGTON | The pace of U.S. home construction jumped 12.3% last month to a 12-year high on a surge in apartment building.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that housing starts came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.36 million, the most since June 2007 and up from a revised 1.22 million, as builders overcame a shortage of skilled workers and available land.

Economists had expected a more modest gain and in another promising sign, permits, a signal of future building, rose 7.7% to 1.42 million, highest since May 2007.

Construction of single-family homes rose 4.4% to 919,000. Building of apartments and condominiums surged 30.9% —biggest monthly gain since December 2016 — to 424,000.

Residential construction rose 30.5% in the Northeast, 15.4% in the Midwest and 14.9% in the South but was unchanged in the West.

India’s government approves ban on e-cigarettes

NEW DELHI | India’s government on Wednesday decided to ban e-cigarettes, expressing concern at the alarming rate at which vaping is becoming popular among the country’s youth and causing breathing illnesses.

The ban was approved by the Cabinet. The government is expected to issue an ordinance soon prohibiting the manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertising related to e-cigarettes.

The first offense will be punishable by up to one year in prison or a fine of up to 100,000 rupees ($1,390), or both.

For a subsequent offense, the punishment will be imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of up to 500,000 rupees ($6,945).

China releases stockpiled pork to cool surge

in prices

BEIJING | China’s government is releasing pork from stockpiles to help cool surging prices ahead of Oct. 1 celebrations of the Communist Party’s 70th anniversary in power.

The price of pork, China’s staple meat, has soared almost 50% from a year ago due to a devastating outbreak of African swine fever that killed or prompted authorities to destroy pigs. That has pushed up global pork prices as importers buy foreign supplies.

A government agency that manages the stockpile of frozen pork said Wednesday it will auction off 10,000 tons.

China produces and consumes two-thirds of the world’s pork.

— From AP reports