``Housing starts increased in the South and Midwest last month, but slowed in the Northeast and West. Permits, a gauge of future construction, ran at an annual pace of just over 1 million, a 7.7% increase from January and the highest level since October. The gain was all in multi-family housing, where permits have climbed to mid-2008 levels. But permits for single-family houses fell 1.8%, the third straight monthly decline.''

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