US housing starts in February fall more than expected

WASHINGTON (AP) — Homebuilders broke ground on fewer apartment complexes in February, causing overall housing starts to fall 7 percent.

The Commerce Department said Friday that housing starts last month were at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.24 million, an expected decline after construction surged in January to 1.33 million.

February's slowdown in construction came from a 28 percent plunge in starts for multi-family buildings, while groundbreakings for single-family houses rose 2.9 percent.

Builders have shifted more construction to single-family houses as the economy has improved and the supply of existing houses for sale has dropped. Still, the additional construction is unlikely to offset rising costs and higher mortgage rates.

Building permits, an indicator of future construction, tumbled 5.7 percent to an annual pace of 1.30 million.