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US home construction rose 1.5 per cent in October

FILE- In this July 23, 2018, file photo a construction worker puts down roofing paper on a new home as he works outside in Houston. On Tuesday, Nov. 20, the Commerce Department reports on U.S. home construction in October. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

WASHINGTON — U.S. home construction improved a slight 1.5 per cent in October, but in a troubling sign, ground breakings for single-family houses fell.

The Commerce Department says housing starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.23 million, up from 1.21 million in September. The gains came entirely from apartments as starts for single-family houses slipped 1.8 per cent last month.

A sharp increase in mortgage rates has led to a marked decline in home construction since May, such that ground breakings have fallen 2.6 per cent over the past 12 months.

The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage has shot up a full percentage point in the past year to 4.94 per cent, according to Freddie Mac.

Permits, an indicator of future activity, declined 0.6 per cent to an annual rate of 1.26 million.

Josh Boak, The Associated Press