US housing starts down slightly in October

WASHINGTON (AP) ? U.S. builders started slightly fewer homes in October but submitted plans for a wave of apartments, a mixed sign for the struggling housing market.

Builders broke ground on a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 628,000 homes last month, down 0.3 percent from September. That’s roughly half the 1.2 million homes that economists say must be built to sustain a healthy housing market.

Building permits, a gauge of future construction, rose nearly 11 percent. The increase was spurred by a 30 percent increase in apartment permits, which reached its highest level in three years.

New-home construction and sales are in the midst of one of its worst years in history. Demand for new homes is weak and historically-low mortgage rates and plunging home prices have done little to help.