(Drops extraneous word "million" in second paragraph)
WASHINGTON, July 17 U.S. housing starts and
building permits unexpectedly fell in June, suggesting the
housing market recovery was struggling to get back on track
after stalling in late 2013.
Groundbreaking declined 9.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted
annual 893,000 unit-pace, the lowest since September,
the Commerce Department said on Thursday. April's starts were
revised to show a steeper 7.3 percent fall instead of the
previously reported 6.5 percent drop.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast starts rising to a
1.02 million-unit rate last month.
Housing has been constrained by higher mortgage rates. A
shortage of properties for sale has pushed up prices, reducing
affordability for many.
But there are glimmers of hope for the sector. A survey on
Wednesday showed confidence among single-family home builders
hit a six-month high in July, amid optimism over sales over the
next six months.
Groundbreaking for single-family homes, the largest part of
the market, tumbled 9.0 percent in June to a 575,000-unit pace,
the lowest since November 2012. Single-family starts in the
South dropped to their lowest level in two years.
Starts for the volatile multi-family homes segment dropped
9.9 percent to a 318,000-unit rate.
Permits fell 4.2 percent to a 963,000-unit pace in June.
Economists had expected them to rise to a 1.04-million unit
pace. With permits now leading starts, groundbreaking could pick
up in the months ahead.
Permits for single-family homes increased 2.6 percent to a
631,000 unit-pace, the highest level since November. Permits for
multi-family housing tumbled 14.9 percent to a 332,000-unit
(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)