U.S. housing starts fell less than expected in December, pausing after recent strong gains that had pushed home building activity to multi-year highs.
The Commerce Department said on Friday groundbreaking dropped 9.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 999,000-unit pace. It was the largest percentage decline since April.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected starts to fall to a 990,000-unit rate in December. For all of 2013, starts increased 18.3 percent to an average of 923,400-units.
Groundbreaking for single-family homes, the largest segment of the market, fell 7.0 percent to a 667,000-unit pace in December. Starts for the volatile multi-family homes segment declined 14.9 percent to a 332,000-unit rate.