Cold weather may have put a chill in housing starts.
The government reports a larger-than-expected decline in new home construction last month. The 7.9 percent drop puts housing starts at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of one-point-nine million units. It is the first decline in five months.
The December pace was the strongest seen since early 1984. The report includes a decline in building permits, which are viewed as a gauge of future building activity. They dropped 2.8 percent.
Economist Michael Carliner with the National Association of Home Builders says the decline may have been influenced by cold weather, but also marks an inevitable slowdown from the strong pace late last year.