Single-family housing starts inched up 2% in March from the total recorded in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.218 million units, but they were down 24.6% compared with the level of a year ago, according to government figures released April 17.The Northeast suffered the most, falling 35.2%. Total housing starts -- which include multifamily -- were up a scant 0.8% from February to March, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported. "Given the issues stemming from the fallout in the subprime sector, builders could turn even more cautious, cutting back further on supply," RBS Greenwich Capital said in a research note. "While we anticipate the correction in groundbreaking activity to continue for at least a few more months, we still look for housing starts to flatten out in the second half of the year."

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