Construction of new homes fell 0.6 percent in September, the Commerce Department reported last week. The eighth straight monthly decline left building activity at its lowest level since near the end of the last recession. Last month's drop in starts followed a revised 1.0 percent decline in construction activity during August.

Building of single-family homes rose slightly by 4.3 percent in September. But that was more than offset by a 14.3 percent drop in apartment building. Total housing starts dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,135,000 units in September.

It was the first time in more than 30 years, since records were started in 1959, that construction starts fell for eight successive months.

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