Housing Starts Thursday, Jan. 20, 8:30 A.M.

The MMS economists expect that builders lost little momentum last month. Housing starts had jumped by 3.9% in November, to an annual rate of 1.43 million, and the forecasters project that December starts fell back only a bit, to a still-high 1.42 million pace. The 11.3% surge in new-home sales in November means that developers have fewer houses to sell. And the recent backup in mortgage rates suggests that prospective buyers are entering the housing market before rates get too high.

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