WASHINGTON — U.S. home construction fell in June to the slowest pace in nine months, a setback to hopes that housing is regaining momentum and will boost economic growth this year.

Construction fell 9.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 893,000 homes, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That was the slowest pace since September and followed a 7.3 percent drop in May.

Applications for building permits, considered an indicator of future activity, were also down in June, dropping 4.2 percent to a rate of 963,000 after a 5.1 percent decline in May.

The worse-than-expected June performance reflected a big drop in activity in the South, where construction fell by 29.6 percent last month.

The overall weakness reflected a 9 percent fall in construction of single-family homes, the biggest part of the market, and a 9.9 percent drop in construction of apartments and other multi-family units.

All of the June weakness was confined to the South, where about 40 percent of home construction occurs. Construction was up 14.1 percent in the Northeast, 28.1 percent in the Midwest and 2.6 percent in the West.

– The Associated Press