US housing starts plummeted 11.2 percent in December

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US housing starts plummeted 11.2 percent in December
In this Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019 photo a recently constructed home, left, is reflected in water, in Natick, Mass. On Tuesday, Feb. 26, the Commerce Department reports on U.S. home construction in December. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of homes being built in December plunged to the lowest level in more than two years, a possible sign that developers are anticipating fewer new houses to be sold this year.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that housing starts fell 11.2 percent in December from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate 1.08 million. This is the slowest pace of construction since September 2016.

Over the past 12 months, housing starts have tumbled 10.2 percent. December’s decline occurred for single-family houses and apartment buildings. Builders have pulled back as higher prices have caused home sales to slump, suggesting that affordability challenges have caused the pool of would-be buyers to dwindle.

Permits to build housing, an indicator of future activity, increased just 0.3 percent in December.