U.S. homebuilders slowed the pace of construction in January, breaking ground on fewer single-family houses ahead of the spring buying season. Housing starts slipped 2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.07 million last month, down from 1.09 million in December, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Leading that decline was a sharp 6.7 percent monthly drop in starts for single-family houses. Still, a healing economy has caused building activity to move at a faster clip, with single-family starts climbing 18.7 percent over the past 12 months. Despite the monthly decline, the broader economy should help boost home sales and apartment construction this year. 'We have strong job growth, strong consumer confidence, still low borrowing costs,' said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.