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News Summary: US construction up in February

The Associated Press

BUILDUP: Spending on U.S. construction projects rose 1.2 percent in February, helped by a 2.2 percent surge in home construction, which rose to the highest level in more than four years.

THE COMPONENTS: Private residential construction climbed to an annual rate of $303.4 billion, the best showing since November 2008. Private nonresidential construction was up 0.4 percent while public construction rose 0.9 percent.

THE OUTLOOK: Steady hiring and nearly record-low mortgage rates have encouraged more Americans to buy homes. More people are also moving out on their own after living with friends and relatives in the recession. That's driving a big gain in apartment construction and also pushing up rents.