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U.S. housing starts pull back more than expected

Staff Writer |
New residential construction in the U.S. pulled back sharply in the month of March, according to a report released by the Commerce Department, although the report also showed a rebound in building permits.

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The report said housing starts plunged by 6.8% to an annual rate of 1.215 million in March from an upwardly revised 1.303 million in February.

Economists had expected housing starts to drop by 2% to a rate of 1.262 million from the 1.288 million originally reported for the previous month.

The bigger than expected decrease in housing starts reflected notable declines in both single-family and multi-family starts.

Single-family starts tumbled by 6.2% to a rate of 821,000, while multi-family starts slumped by 7.9% to a rate of 394,000.

The report also showed steep drops in housing starts in the Midwest and West, where starts plummeted by 16.2% and 16.0%, respectively.

Housing starts in the South also fell by 2.9%, although housing starts in the Northeast surged up by 12.9%.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said building permits, an indicator of future housing demand, jumped by 3.6% to a rate of 1.260 million in March from a revised 1.216 million in February.

Building permits had been expected to climb by 3.1% to a rate of 1.250 million from the 1.213 million that had been reported for the previous month.

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