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Housing Construction Plunged Last Year, Report Says

March 10, 1988

Undated (AP) _ Rising interest rates and plentiful apartment vacancies contributed to a 14 percent decline in new housing starts last year, according to a report by a private business information concern.

The report Wednesday by the F.W. Dodge Division of McGraw-Hill Information Systems Co. said only three of the nation’s top 10 metropolitan areas - Washington, D.C., Detroit and Philadelphia - showed any pickup in construction activity last year.

″High vacancy rates and high mortgage rates took a heavy toll of apartment and one-family building alike last year,″ said George A. Christie, chief economist for F.W. Dodge.

In other news, the stock market’s recent rally bogged down Wednesday as blue chips gave up some of their gains from the day before. The Dow Jones average of 30 industrial stocks, up 24.70 points on Tuesday, dropped back 6.80 to 2,074.27.

Nevertheless, advancing issues outnumbered decliners by about 4 to 3 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Confidence has continued to spread lately on Wall Street that the economy remains healthy nearly five months after Black Monday on Oct. 19.

In addition, stock prices have been less volatile lately than they were as recently as early January, suggesting that investors’ mood is less subject to sudden change.

Analysts say investing institutions have grown more eager to put some of their cash reserves into stocks, in order to show in their first-quarter reports to clients that they participated in the recent market rally.

Bond prices finished little changed. The yield on the Treasury’s bellwether 30-year issue slipped to 8.51 percent from 8.52 percent.

The dollar rose slightly against major currencies late in the day as world markets remained transfixed by the surging British pound, analysts said. Gold prices were also higher.

Crude oil prices edged upward and refined products ended mixed. Market analysts said there were few developments to influence trading.

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