updated 2/20/2008 11:54:36 AM ET 2008-02-20T16:54:36

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that applications for future new home construction fell sharply in January, though there was a modest increase in construction last month.

The Commerce Department said construction of new homes and apartments rose by 0.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of just over 1 million units. That’s the first increase since October and followed a plunge of 14.8 percent in December.

Applications for new construction, considered a good sign of where construction is headed, fell by 3 percent. That translates to just over one million units, the lowest level since November 1991. The data are viewed as evidence that the nation’s troubled housing sector has yet to hit bottom.

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Data: Latest rates in the US

Home equity rates View rates in your area
Home equity type Today +/- Chart
$30K HELOC FICO 3.79%
$30K home equity loan FICO 4.99%
$75K home equity loan FICO 4.69%
Credit card rates View more rates
Card type Today +/- Last Week
Low Interest Cards 13.83%
Cash Back Cards 17.80%
Rewards Cards 17.18%
Source: Bankrate.com