WASHINGTON - Housing starts fell 1.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 746,000 in July from a revised estimate of 754,000 in June, originally reported as 760,000, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

Building permits jumped 6.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 812,000 from the  revised June rate of 760,000, originally reported as 755,000.

July housing starts came in below the median 755,000 projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters, but were 21.5% above the July 2011 rate of 614,000.

Building permits for June far exceeded the median 769,000 projected by the economists, and were 29.5% above the July 2011 estimate of 627,000. The 812,000 July 2012 permit was the most since there were 858,000 in August 2008.

Housing starts fell in most regions of the country, but experienced a 17% increase in the Midwest. The Northeast saw a 1.3% decline over the previous month, and the West had a 5.3% decrease. Housing starts fell 3.5% in the South.

Building permits experienced the opposite trend, with only the Midwest declining from June. While Midwestern permits fell 4.2%, permits rose 12.2% in the Northeast, 5.8% in the South, and 14.0% in the West.

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