(Building permits data added and stock prices updated at the close.)



) -- The housing high simmered, as construction spending on new homes and apartment slipped 1% in July.

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The Commerce Department said Tuesday that new construction fell to 581,000 units from 587,000 in June. Economists expected 600,000 units to be built in July.

The results were weighed down by a 13% plunge in apartment building. Construction of single-family homes, however, rose 1%.

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While the decline is not astronomical, it still portends a long, slow housing recovery, as housing starts during the month were still 38% below last year's levels.

Building permits, which help gauge future activity, also fell 1.8% in July to 560,000. Economists expected a 0.5% increase to 573,000.

Shares of home builders closed mixes, after a seasaw day of trading.



ended the day down 0.3% to $11.95,

KB Home

(KBH) - Get Report

grew 3.5% to $17,


(LEN) - Get Report

increased 3% to $13.19,

Toll Brothers

(TOL) - Get Report

was up 3% to close at $21.98 and

Pulte Homes

(PHM) - Get Report

ended the day about flat.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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