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December housing starts lagged, but '83 was upbeat

December's bitter cold helped slow down new housing construction by 5 percent , but 1983 still ended as the best year for the industry since 1979, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

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The annual rate of new construction starts was 1.667 million, using December figures after seasonal adjustment. The total number of housing units reached an estimated 1.703 million.

Most forecasters think 1984 will show very little growth in the rate of housing production and sales over last year unless interest rates fall.

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