(Housing starts story updated for homebuilder stock trading, analyst commentary)NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Housing starts fell in June by 5%, more than forecast by economists, and the latest sign of weakness in the U.S. residential housing market after the end of the federal homebuyer tax credit. Housing starts were down in June at 549,000, 5% below the revised May estimate of 578,000, and 5.8% below the June 2009 rate of 583,000, according to the month U.S. Census Bureau data. The June housing starts level was the lowest since last October. A Dow Jones survey of economists had predicted a decline in housing starts of just over 3%. Single-family housing starts in June were at a rate of 454,000; 0.7% below the revised May figure of 457,000. The weak housing starts data was the latest in a recent series of negative economic indicators for the beleaguered housing sector. Building permits in June, though, were at a rate of 586,000, 2.1% above the revised May rate of 574,000, but worse than the level from a year ago, 2.3% below the June 2009 estimate of 600,000. It was the first gain since March for building permits, suggesting that new construction activity would increase in the coming months. The building permits rise partially offset the latest in the bad news delivered on the housing sector. On Monday, the latest national survey of homebuilder sentiment showed the lowest level of confidence since April 2009.