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October construction spending up 1.4%

WASHINGTON — US builders increased their spending on construction projects in October by the largest amount in five months, led by a surge in housing.

The Commerce Department said Monday that construction spending rose 1.4 percent, the largest gain since a 1.7 percent increase in May.

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Spending rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $872.1 billion. That is nearly 17 percent higher than a 12-year low in February 2011.

Still, even with the gain, the level of spending on construction remains about half of what is considered healthy.

Housing construction spending jumped 3 percent in October. Nonresidential building rose 0.3 percent. The government said Hurricane Sandy, in late October, had a minimal effect on the figures.

Sales of new homes fell slightly in October, dragged lower by steep declines in the Northeast partly related to Sandy. New-home sales were 17 percent higher in October than in the same month a year earlier.

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