Dollar Little Changed on Falling Prices, Less-Than-Forecast Housing Starts

By Min Zeng

Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) -- The dollar was little changed versus the yen and euro after government reports showed housing starts in the U.S. were less than forecast and consumer prices declined last month.

Housing starts decreased to an annual rate of 1.331 million during August, compared with a revised 1.367 million in the prior month. A Bloomberg News survey of 77 economists called for 1.35 million. Building permits, a sign of future construction, reached a 1.307 million annual pace, compared with a revised 1.389 million during July. A Bloomberg survey called for 1.348 million.

Consumer prices fell 0.1 percent during August, compared with a 0.1 percent increase in July, and a Bloomberg survey that called for no change. Core prices, which exclude food and energy, increased 0.2 percent and were up 2.1 percent from a year earlier.

The dollar gained to $1.3964 per euro at 8:48 a.m. in New York, from $1.3984 yesterday, when the U.S. currency declined to an all-time low of $1.3988 after the Federal Reserve cut its benchmark interest rate 0.5 percentage point to 4.75 percent. The dollar declined 0.1 percent to 115.98 yen. The euro bought 161.97 yen, from 162.29 yesterday.

Mortgage applications in the U.S. rose 2.4 percent last week, led by gains in refinancing. The Mortgage Bankers Association's index of applications to buy a home or refinance a loan rose to 673.2 from 657.4 the prior week. The group's purchase index increased 0.9 percent and its refinancing gauge strengthened 4.6 percent.

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