US home construction tumbled 8.2 percent in December

Groundbreakings on new homes fell 8.2 percent in December, with builders ending 2017 by slowing down their construction of single-family houses.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that the monthly decline put U.S. housing starts at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.19 million units. Almost all of that decrease came from builders starting fewer single-family houses after robust gains in October and November. The pullback occurred even as the housing market faces a dwindling number of properties for sale.

Still, for all of 2017, housing starts have risen 2.4 percent. Single-family house construction drove that entire increase, while the construction of apartment complexes plunged last year as more renters appear to be shopping for homes.

Building permits, an indicator of future construction, slipped 0.1 percent in December to 1.3 million.