Construction of new houses leaped 7.2 percent in October, the biggest increase in eight months, a signal the housing industry may be moving out of a nearly yearlong slump, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Housing projects were started in October at an annual rate of 1.554 million units, a 7.2 percent jump, after dipping 0.8 percent from August to September. Single-family housing also took a turn for the better in October, rising 10 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.146 million units.