New slip in housing starts spurs talk of bankruptcies

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The latest decline reported in construction - a September drop of 1.7 percent in housing starts - prompted new forecasts of widespread bankruptcies of builders.

The decline in housing starts reported by the Commerce Department this week, down to 918,000 annually on the basis of September figures, was the latest in almost three years of steady bad news for the industry hardest hit by high interest rates.

A modest increase in single-family home starts was wiped out by sharp declines for multifamily housing, the department said.

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A spokesman for the National Association of Home Builders said, ''Builders are at the end of their ropes and will be forced out of business in the next few months unless interest rates decline.''

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