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U.S. housing starts slowed sharply in December

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Groundbreaking on new homes fell more than expected in December to its lowest in over a year, suggesting the battered housing sector remained a roadblock to a recovery.

Housing starts in the United States dropped to an annual rate of 529,000 units, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday, down from November’s 553,000 and well below forecasts of about 550,000 in a Reuters poll. At current levels, starts account for less than a quarter of their boom-time peaks.