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||3.79%||3.76%|
|15 yr fixed||2.93%||2.96%|
|30 yr refi||3.85%||3.83%|
|15 yr refi||3.00%||3.04%|
Today's featured rates:
Lucas will finance 100% of the project at Grady Ranch and wants Marin County teachers and police officers to be able to live there. More
It's the second big layoff at Schlumberger this year. The oil services company cut 9,000 workers in January. More
The Smokio e-cigarette pairs with an app on your phone to keep track of how much you smoke, and how much money you've saved by not buying tobacco cigarettes. More
Employers in New York City can no longer use credit checks to screen potential hires. More