NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- New home construction ticked higher in July, but indications of future building were weak, the government said Tuesday.
Housing starts rose 1.7% from June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 546,000 last month, the Commerce Department said.
Economists were expecting housing starts to rise to 555,000, according to a consensus estimate from Briefing.com.
On a year-over-year basis, starts fell 7% from July 2009.
"Activity in the housing market is likely to remain depressed for several years," Paul Ashworth, U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said in a research note. "Housing is not going to lead the economic recovery."
Future activity: Applications for building permits, a gauge of future construction activity, fell over the month. Permits dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 565,000 in July, down 3.1% from a revised 583,000 in June.
Economists were expecting a more modest drop to 573,000. Permits were down 3.7% from the same time last year.
"[The permits figure] is not an encouraging sign," Ashworth said. "The 'good' news, however, is that housing is so depressed it is hard to see activity falling much further from such a severely depressed level."
New homes by sector: New construction of single-family homes, the key sector of the housing market, fell 1.2% over the month to an annual rate of 421,000.
|Overnight Avg Rate||Latest||Change||Last Week|
|30 yr fixed||3.85%||3.85%|
|15 yr fixed||3.02%||3.03%|
|30 yr refi||3.83%||3.81%|
|15 yr refi||3.00%||3.00%|
Today's featured rates:
Nike is opening up shop on Amazon.com and the company plans "big shifts" over the coming year. More
The Congressional Budget Office narrows its projection for when Treasury will run short on money if Congress doesn't raise or suspend the country's debt ceiling. More
In 1998, Ntsiki Biyela won a scholarship to study wine making. Now she's about to launch her own brand. More
For all the cruelty-free, anti-sweatshop, organic attention you give your individual purchases day to day, your money may be paying for causes you don't want to support. More