U.S. housing starts decline, permits flat

U.S. housing starts fell by 4.5 percent in January to an annualized rate of 1.31 million units, according to Census Bureau data. It was the fifth consecutive monthly decline, making the longest such streak since 2009. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had given a median estimate of 1.36 million units. Building permits for the month edged up by just 0.1 percent, compared to Wall Street expectations of 0.8 percent.