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Construction spending increased 1.3 percent in October, the first gain in three months, the government reported today. But the advance was due in large part to new school and sewer projects as spending on residential and non-residential buildings continued to fall.

The Commerce Department said overall residential, non-residential and government spending totaled a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $434.4 billion, up from $428.9 billion in September. Construction spending was unchanged in August at $441.2 billion.

The 2.8 percent drop in spending in September was the steepest since a 3.0 percent decline in January 1982 in the midst of the 1981-82 recession.

The October advance was the first since July, when the increase was a barely perceptible 0.05 percent.

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