Japan's housing starts declined 20.7% on a yearly basis in March, slower than the 24.9% decrease seen in February, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport reported Thursday. Economists were expecting housing starts to drop 22.5%. Housing starts fell for the fourth consecutive month.

Meanwhile, housing starts in March stood at 888,000 compared to 866,000 last month.

Construction orders received by the 50 big contractors in March decreased 37.8% from the same period of last year.

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