Housing starts rose for the first time in a few months in November climbing 3.9% from the prior month. Although building permits for new home construction fell to the lowest point in a year and a half, according to the Commerce Department. Starts rose to a seasonally adjusted rate of 555,000 units, up from a revised 534,000 units for October but still 5.8% lower than a year earlier. Analysts polled by both Reuters and Bloomberg expected housing starts to come in at 550,000 for last month. Permits for new construction, a leading indicator of future building activity, decreased to 530,000 in November, which is 4% lower than the revised October figure of 552,000 and 14.7% below the year ago estimate of 621,000. "The U.S. housing sector does not appear to be participating in the recent improvement in economic activity," said Paul Dales, U.S. economist at Capital Economics. "We suspect this will be a theme of the next couple of years." Write to Jason Philyaw.