U.S. home construction fell for third month in February

In this Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, file photo, a construction worker unloads rebar in the Brooklyn borough of New York. The Commerce Department reports on U.S. home construction in February on Tuesday, March 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In this Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, file photo, a construction worker unloads rebar in the Brooklyn borough of New York. The Commerce Department reports on U.S. home construction in February on Tuesday, March 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. home construction fell for a third month in February, but in a hopeful sign, applications for building permits rose to their highest level in four months.

The Commerce Department says builders started work on 907,000 homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in February. That was down a slight 0.2 percent from January, when construction had fallen 11.2 percent. The declines have been blamed in large part on severe winter weather in much of the country.

Applications for permits to build new homes, considered a gauge of future activity, rose a solid 7.7 percent in February to 1.02 million units.

The expectation is that housing sales and construction will show further gains this year, helped by a stronger economy.

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