This missed economists' expectations for a 6.4% fall to an annualized rate of 970,000 units.
Last month's data was revised down to show a 5.4% increase to 1.02 million units.
Building permits beat expectations surging 14.3% MoM to an annualized 1.01 million units. Economists were looking for a 3.8% rise to an annualized 941,000 units.
Last month's reading was revised down to show 6.5% fall to 890,000 units.
On Wednesday we got homebuilder confidence, considered a leading indicator for housing starts, specifically permits. That rose to 44 in May, from 41.
"While the headline was disappointing the “more normal” reading for housing starts was confirmed by a sizable pick-up in building permit issuance," according to Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak & Co.
"You have to look back to June 2008 to find a month in which permit applications exceeded one million. The surge in April to 1.017 million rests comfortably with this week’s rise in confidence as reported by the NAHB survey."
Ahead of the release Morgan Stanley said housing starts have "troughed" and are now on a "well-defined uptrend:"
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