Housing starts sink

July 20, 2004 at 12:33 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 20 (UPI) -- The U.S. Commerce Department said Tuesday housing starts posted their largest decline in more than a year during June amid higher mortgage rates.

The government agency said June housing starts sank 8.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted 1.802 million annual rate. The decline was the largest since February 2003's 10.7 percent plunge.

Commerce also revised May housing starts to show a rise of 0.4 percent to a 1.97 million rate, which had been previously reported as an 0.7 percent decline.

Wall Street economists had expected June housing starts would jump 1.2 percent.

While still relatively low, mortgage rates inched above the 6 percent mark during the month.

Commerce said building permits declined 8.2 percent to a 1.924 million annual rate after rising 4.5 percent in May.

Single-family housing starts dropped 9.5 percent in June, while multi-family starts -- that is, apartment building construction -- rose 4.1 percent.

Regionally, starts fell 3.5 percent in the Northeast, sank 11.5 percent in the Midwest, declined 3.1 percent in the South and plunged 16.5 percent in the West last month.

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