Housing construction fell in February as winter blizzards held down activity in the Northeast and Midwest.
The decline highlighted the challenges facing builders as they struggle to emerge from the worst housing slump in decades.
The Commerce Department said that construction of new homes and apartments fell 5.9 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 575,000 units, slightly higher than the 570,000 that economists were expecting.
January activity was revised up to a pace of 622,000 units, the strongest showing in 14 months.
Homebuilders are trying to emerge from a severe housing downturn. A rebound in housing is seen as critical to sustaining the overall economic recovery.