Groundbreaking for new U.S. home construction dropped 5.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 575,000 in February as building permits decreased by 1.6% to 612,000, the Commerce Department reported yesterday.

Economists had expected housing starts to decrease to an annual rate of 570,000 and for building permits to hit 610,000, according to the median estimate from Thomson Reuters.

February's 575,000 housing-starts rate follows an upwardly revised 611,000 rate in January, initially reported as 591,000. February's 612,000 permit rate follows January's slightly revised 622,000 figure, which was initially reported as 621,000.

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