U.S. housing starts fell more than expected in August as building activity declined broadly after two straight months of solid increases, but a rebound in permits for single-family dwellings suggested demand for housing remained intact.
Groundbreaking decreased 5.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.14 million units, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday. July's starts were unrevised at a 1.21 million-unit pace.
Permits for future construction slipped 0.4 percent to a 1.14 million-unit rate last month as approvals for the volatile multi-family homes segment tumbled 7.2 percent to a 402,000 unit-rate. Permits for single-family homes, the largest segment of the market, surged 3.7 percent to a 737,000-unit pace.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts falling to a 1.19 million-unit pace last month and building permits rising to a 1.17 million-unit rate.
Last month's decline in starts was largely anticipated as groundbreaking activity has been running well ahead of permits approvals over the past several months, especially in the single-family housing segment. The drop left starts just below their second-quarter average.