Groundbreaking for new U.S. home construction declined in February, dropping 0.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.065 million as building permits slipped 7.8% to an annual rate of 978,000, according to Commerce Department data released yesterday.

The rate for housing starts exceeded the 990,000 level predicted by IFR Markets’ poll of economists, which had projected a 1.025 million rate for permits.

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