Single-family housing starts fell 8% in January as builders took a slight pause from a record-breaking construction pace in November and December.The U.S. Census Bureau reported that single-family starts fell from a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.67 million in December to a 1.54 million rate in January. Construction activity dropped by 18.5% in the Northeast and 13.5% in Midwest, which was hit by severe weather in January. Single-family starts fell by 8.4% in the South and by less than 1% in the West. Last year, builders broke ground on 1.50 million new homes, topping the previous record of 1.45 million set 26 years ago. Economists at the National Association of Home Builders project that single-family starts will average 1.54 million in the first quarter of 2004.

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