Due to a change in the housing code of New York City, U.S. housing starts came in above expectations at 1066k in June, a month-over-month rise of 9.1%, according to data released from the U.S. Department of Commerce on Tuesday morning. The consensus was looking for a decline to a level of 960k.

The previous month's 975k was revised to a level of 977k.

"New York City enacted a new set of construction codes effective for permits authorized as of July 1, 2008," reported the Department of Commerce. "In June, there was a large increase in building permits issued for multifamily residential buildings in New York City. Excluding the Northeast multifamily data, there was a 0.7% increase in permit authorizations and a 4.0% decrease in housing starts in June 2008."

Single-family homes - the most important component in the report, accounting for four-fifths of housing starts - fell 5.3% to 647k, compared to the previous month's 683k level.

Multiple-family homes contributed 419k, far higher than the previous month's 294k level.

Meanwhile, building permits totalled 1091k in June, a rise of 11.6% month-over-month from 978k last month and above the consensus call for 965k.

Privately-owned housing completions in June were at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1167k.

Housing starts refer to the number of homes being built, and provide a sense of how the housing sector has performed in the previous month. Housing permits represent plans to construct new homes, an indicator of housing performance in upcoming months.

By Erik Kevin Franco and edited by Sarah Sussman