Construction of new homes rebounded in February after a big decline in the previous month, but building permits slid further, indicating more problems down the road for the troubled housing industry.

The Commerce Department reported that construction of new homes and apartments rose by 9 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.525 million units. That represented a better-than-expected rebound after construction activity had plunged by 14.3 percent in January to the slowest pace in more than nine years.

But builders' applications for new permits, considered a more reliable gauge of future activity, continued falling in February, dropping by 2.5 percent to an annual rate of 1.532 million units. That marked the 12th decline in the past 13 months in building permits and underscored the construction industry's steep slump.

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