Single-family housing starts fell 8.2% in September to a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.54 million units, according to new figures released Oct. 19 by the Commerce Department.Compared with the level of a year earlier, new housing starts rose 0.2%. Analyzing the results, Greenwich Capital noted that groundbreaking activity in the Northeast plunged 27%, but the firm blamed the decline on "weakness in the region" exaggerated by hurricane-related flooding that reached the Northeast. Overall starts, which include multifamily construction, came in at 1.90 million units, a 6% decline from the level of the previous month. Even though September's results were negative, the National Association of Home Builders released a new survey that finds builder confidence at a yearly high. The trade group says builders are optimistic because of improving economic conditions, low mortgage rates, and strong house-price performance. The Commerce Department can be found online at http://www.doc.gov.

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