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U.S. Economy: Home Construction Slumps, Producer Costs Rise

Housing starts in the U.S. plunged to the lowest level in almost a year in February and wholesale prices rose more than forecast, hurdles for a recovery that the Federal Reserve said yesterday is on a “firmer footing.”

Home construction dropped 23 percent to a 479,000 annual rate, while building permits slumped last month to a record low, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The producer-price index jumped 1.6 percent in February, the most since June 2009, the Labor Department said. The gain exceeded the highest forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.