Builders started construction on fewer homes in April, the third decline in four months.
U.S. housing starts decreased 2.6% in April from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.172 million, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.
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Residential building permits, an indication of how much construction is in the pipeline, fell 2.5% to an annual pace of 1.229 million last month, the agency said.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a 3.7% increase for starts and a 0.8% rise for permits.
The decline in new construction of homes comes as sales and prices for existing homes are on the rise, an indication of rising demand. Additional construction of new homes could help meet that rising demand.
Starts rose in April for single-family construction but decreased for multifamily construction. Permits last month were up for buildings with multiple units and fell for single-family homes.
Data on housing starts tend to be volatile from month to month and can be subject to sharp revisions.
From a year earlier, starts were up 0.7% and permits were up 5.7%.
The Commerce report can be found at http://www.census.gov/construction/nrc/pdf/newresconst.pdf
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires