U.S. homebuilding fell more than expected in February as a plunge in the construction of multi-family housing units offset a second straight monthly increase in single-family projects.
Housing starts declined 7.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.236 million units, the Commerce Department said on Friday. Data for January was revised up slightly to show groundbreaking increasing to a 1.329 million-unit pace instead of the previously reported 1.326 million units.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts falling to a pace of 1.290 million units last month. Permits for future home building decreased 5.7 percent to a rate of 1.298 million units in February.
U.S. financial markets were little moved by the data.
While the volatile multi-family housing segment accounted for the decline in home building last month, the broader housing market appears to be slowing.
Sales of both new and previously owned homes have slumped in recent months as a dearth of properties on the market pushed up prices, sidelining some first-time home buyers. House price gains topped 6.0 percent in December.
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