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

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

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%.

Housing Recovery Stocks

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. Centex ( CTX) ended the day down 0.3% to $11.95, KB Home ( KBH) grew 3.5% to $17, Lennar ( LEN) increased 3% to $13.19, Toll Brothers ( TOL) was up 3% to close at $21.98 and Pulte Homes ( PHM) ended the day about flat.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.
Copyright 2009 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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