Times Staff and Wire Reports

Building Pace Cools but Still Healthy: Builders broke ground on fewer new homes for the second consecutive month in September, the government said. Starts on new homes and apartments fell 0.1% to an annual rate of 1.39 million, the Commerce Department said, after a revised 2.8% drop in August. The declines followed a big 10.3% jump in July. Regionally, only the West reported higher building starts, up 8.7% from August. Building starts fell 4.2% in the Northeast, 3.8% in the Midwest and 2.2% in the South. Despite the dip last month, analysts said builders were starting projects at a healthy pace as the fall season began. Separately, the Labor Department said new claims for state unemployment pay rose last week to 361,000, the highest level in a month, from 356,000 a week earlier. The reports fit a pattern of moderate growth for the economy with mild inflation.

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