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Building of new US homes edges up

August 17, 2010

Construction of new homes in the US edged up in July but permits issued for future housing construction plunged, the government said Tuesday, as the housing industry struggles to emerge from a slump.

Construction starts on privately owned homes rose by a less than expected 1.7 percent to 546,000 from a revised 537,000 projects, the Commerce Department said. Most economists had expected 555,000 projects for July.

Single-family housing starts however fell 4.2 percent to 432,000, below the revised June figure of 451,000.

Building permits, a forward-looking indicator on the housing construction sector, fell 3.1 percent to 565,000, below the revised June rate of 583,000.

The housing sector was at the epicenter of the financial crisis caused by a mortgage meltdown that plunged the world's largest economy into recession in December 2007.

The US economy began growing again in the middle of last year but recovery has slowed lately, raising the prospect of a double-dip recession.

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