New-home construction starts slipped 4.1% in December from the month before, to an annual rate of 657,000, the Department of Commerce reported. Construction of multifamily dwellings dipped 20.4%, to 187,000. "There's little reason for builders to ramp up residential construction in any strong way until we work off more of the existing supply of homes," said Sam Bullard of Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, N.C.

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