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US housing starts rebound in February

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Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

(Read caption) Workers put up multifamily housing in Chicago. The US saw new home construction rebound 22 percent in February because of an unexpected surge in multifamily housing.

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Housing starts rebounded unexpectedly in February, posting a dramatic 22 percent jump above the previous month to reach a seasonally adjusted 583,000, according to a new report by the Commerce Department released Tuesday.

The seasonally adjusted uptick in housing starts was particularly strong for large multifamily units, which soared 79.7 percent, while single-family homes only climbed 1.1 percent above January's record low.

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Rebound in Northeast

Overall, housing in the Northeast saw the biggest bounce with a whopping 88.6 percent rise. Single-family homes rose 54.2 percent.

The Midwest and South also saw big rebounds with growth of 58.5 percent and 30.2 percent, respectively. Only the West saw a decline, with 24.6 percent fewer housing starts than in January.

Analysts surprised
The rebound was a surprise to many analysts who had expected housing starts to extend their seven-month slide. Nevertheless, February's total was 47.3 percent lower than the February 2008 total.

It's one sign that the economic downturn may be reaching a bottom. For other signs that the contraction is easing, click here.