U.S. homebuilding fell more than expected in December, recording its biggest drop in just over a year, amid a steep decline in the construction of single-family housing units following two months of hefty gains.
Other data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropped to a 45-year low last week. The decline in claims for jobless benefits, however, probably exaggerated the health of the labor market as data for seven states, including California, were estimated.
Housing starts decreased 8.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.192 million units, the Commerce Department said. November’s sales pace was revised up to 1.299 million units from the previously reported 1.297 million units.
The percentage drop for housing starts in December was the largest since November 2016. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts decreasing to a pace of 1.275 million units last month.
U.S. financial markets were little moved by the data.
Homebuilding increased 2.4 percent to 1.202 million units in 2017, the highest level since 2007. December’s moderation in homebuilding is likely to be temporary amid strong demand for housing that is being driven by a robust labor market.
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