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Housing starts down 1.5% in July

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Housing starts fell 1.5% in July, according to Commerce Department data, reverting back to declines after a huge gain in June. On a seasonally adjusted basis, starts decreased to 604,000 from 613,000 for June, which was revised downward 16,000. July starts were up about 10% from 550,000 a year earlier. Analysts polled by Econoday projected housing starts to come in at 600,000 with a range of estimates between 574,000 and 635,000. In a joint release, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development said single-family starts fell 5% in July to a seasonally adjusted rate of 425,000 units, down from a revised 447,000 for June. July's decline continues the wide gyrations seen in housing starts this year and follows a 14.6% gain the prior month, which was the largest increase since January. After the gain in the first month of 2011, starts dropped 22.5% in February, which was the largest monthly decline since March 1984. Building permits in July fell 3.2% to an annual rate of 597,000 from a revised 617,000 for the prior month. Permits for new homes in July were about 3.8% higher than a year earlier. Write to Jason Philyaw. Follow him on Twitter: @jrphilyaw

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