Housing starts drop nationwide in December

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Before the week was out, you knew there’d be fresh evidence of a housing slowdown. And here it is: The federal government on Thursday morning released data showing that the rate of residential housing starts nationwide declined 8.9 percent from November to December, and 5.7 percent from December 2004 to December 2005. The rate of building permits for new private homes also dropped from November to December — 4.4 percent — and from December 2004 — 0.6 percent.