Housing starts rose 0.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 917,000 for February, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens in PDF) released today. After dipping 7.3% from December to January, the newest numbers are a positive sign for the housing market, although they slightly missed analysts' expectations of 919,000.

Source: census.gov. 

In more positive news, building permits in February bumped up 4.6% month-to-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000, beating analysts' expectations.

On a regional level, housing starts in the Midwest jumped 37.5% from January to February, followed by an 18.4% increase in the Northeast. Starts in the South dropped 5.7%, while Western starts fell 7.2%. 

Compared to February 2012, housing starts are up 27.7%, and building permits have improved 33.8%.

This latest news comes one day after the National Association of Home Builders reported a drop in builder confidence for March.