The U.S. Commerce Department said Monday that the amount of spending on new construction projects rose 0.3 percent in March compared to the previous month, climbing to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $969.7 billion.

Economists had generally expected construction spending to fall by more than 1 percent.

March's result is 11.1 percent below the same period last year.

Private construction slipped 0.1 percent for the month, more than offset by a 1.1 percent rise in public construction.

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