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For June, the strength came from a 1.3 percent increase in spending on housing, the fifth gain this year.

The housing gain pushed activity in this category to an annual rate of $265.6 billion. Spending on private nonresidential building projects edged up a slight 0.1 percent to an annual rate of $302.3 billion after much bigger gains over the past three months. In June, spending for office construction and hotel projects both rose but spending in the category that includes shopping centers declined.


First lady on campaign trail in pivotal state

GREENSBORO — First lady Michelle Obama has urged a supportive crowd in North Carolina to get out the vote for her husband’s re-election bid in the political battleground state.

“Are you all in?” she asked the more than 2,000 people packing a gymnasium Wednesday at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

The first lady urged supporters of President Obama to get friends, relatives and neighbors involved in the election under a program she heads, “It Takes One.”

“That one new voter that you register that one neighbor you help get to the polls, that could be the one who makes the difference,” she said.

Her husband narrowly won North Carolina by 14,000 votes in 2008.

The first lady planned a fundraising appearance Wednesday evening in Raleigh, capping the day’s campaigning.


Lawmakers approve tighter Iran sanctions

Congress voted Wednesday to slap sanctions on Iran’s energy, shipping and financial industries, convinced that increasing the economic pressure on Tehran will derail its suspected nuclear weapons program.

The House overwhelmingly passed the bill 421-6 and a short time later, the Senate approved it by voice vote. The measure now heads to President Obama for his expected signature.

The legislation builds on the current penalties directed at financial institutions that do business with Iran’s central bank and adds sanctions to undermine Tehran’s oil income.

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