By Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer
(AP) -- U.S. homebuilders began work at a slower pace in January, though the level was still the third-highest since 2008. The pace of building was viewed as a sign of further strengthening in residential real estate.
The Commerce Department says builders started construction at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 890,000 last month, down 8.5 percent from December, when activity had hit an annual rate of 973,000. The December performance was the best since June 2008.
Applications for building permits rose to an annual rate of 925,000 in January, 1.8 percent higher than December, which had been the high-point since mid-2008.
The pace of construction of single-family homes rose 0.8 percent in January but apartment construction, which is more volatile, dropped 24.1 percent.