Double-digit declines in January starts

Housing starts declined to a disappointing seasonally adjusted annual rate of 880,000 in January, according to data released Wednesday morning by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The figure marks a 16.0% decline from the upwardly adjusted December pace of 1.048 million starts. It’s also below the year-ago pace by 2.0%. That’s the first year-over-year decline in the pace of starts since August 2011. 

Single-family starts were at a rate of 573,000, down 15.9% from the upwardly revised December figure of 681,000. A year ago, single-family starts were reported at 614,000. 

The story from permits was a little better, but still negative. Permits were at a rate of 937,000, down 5.4% from the revised December rate of 991,000. Permits were at least ahead of last year’s pace -- by 2.4%.

Starts were expected to hit a pace of about 950,000 in January, according to analysts. The weather was partly -- though not entirely -- to blame for the depressed housing statistics.

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