Groundbreaking for new U.S. home construction slumped in December, sliding 15.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 550,000 units as building permits dropped 10.7% to an annual rate of 549,000 units, according to Commerce Department data released yesterday.

The rate for housing starts failed to meet the 615,000 level predicted by Thomson Reuters’ poll of economists. Thomson had projected a 610,000 rate for permits.

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