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American businesses plan to boost spending on plants and equipment just 0.4 percent in 1991, the smallest gain in investment in five years, the government said today.

The Commerce Department said a survey conducted in October and November found businesses planning to spend $524.2 billion for expansion and modernization, the fifth consecutive year of increased business investment.

Business investment actually declined 3.1 percent in 1986.

The survey found businesses planned to boost spending 4.1 percent this year, to $522.1 billion. That was down from a 5.1 percent increase projected for 1990 in the previous survey last July and August.

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