The U.S. dollar slipped on foreign markets yesterday, reflecting an apparent easing by the Federal Reserve, but it came back in New York after the government announced housing starts rose sharply in June.

Gold was little changed in Europe and lower in New York on a featureless day.

In Zurich gold closed $4.50 higher at $629.50 an ounce compared with Wednesday's $625. In London gold closed unchanged at $625.50.

In New York gold was trading at $620 an ounce on the spot market at the close, down from $626 Wednesday. The Comex settlement price was $618.40, down from $626.40. Silver was unchanged at $15.727 an ounce.

In London the pound rose to $2.3810 from $2.3725 Wednesday, but it fell back to $2.3780 in New York.

European closing rates with late New York prices in parentheses:

Frankfurt, 1.7370 marks, down from 1.7437 (197427); Zurich, 1.5985 Swiss francs, down from 1.6040 (1.6045); Amsterdam, 1.90875 guilders, up from 1.9050 (1.9010); Paris, 4.0360 francs, down from 4.0530 6(4.04): Milan, 827.30 lire down from 831.45 (829.30); Brussels, 28.1250 francs, down from 28.2050 (27.88).