WASHINGTON -- Housing starts fell twice as far as expected in October, the government reported yesterday, providing an important indication that higher interest rates are beginning to take a bigger bite out of the economy.

Builders started construction on 5.2% fewer houses and apartment buildings in October compared with September, the Commerce Department reported. The seasonally adjusted annualized rate fell to 1.419 million traits. Economists on average predicted the rate would fall by about 2.6%.

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