Economic Reports Signal Slowdown

More signs of economic sluggishness emerged Tuesday - the fourth straight decline in singlefamily home building and the lowest industrial output in nine months.

Analysts attributed the lackluster performance in both key economic sectors to high interest rates that had produced a glut of unsold cars and houses.

Although the Commerce Department reported Tuesday that construction of new single-family homes and apartments rose 0.4 percent in April, the advance was due to a 2.4 percent increase in multi-family housing. Single-family homes - 80 percent of starts - slipped 0.1 percent, the fourth straight decline.

Overall, housing starts totaled 1.24 million at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, up from 1.23 million in March, which had been the lowest since 1.07 million in March 1993.

In a separate report Tuesday, the Fed said production at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities fell 0.4 percent in April, marking the first back-to-back declines since December 1991 and January 1992.

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