May 5, 2010
U.S. construction spending rises in March

WASHINGTON, May 3 (Reuters) - U.S. construction spending unexpectedly rose in March to post the first advance since October, lifted by a rebound in public construction investment, a government report showed on Monday.

The Commerce Department said construction spending increased 0.2 percent, the largest gain since October, to an annual rate of $847.3 billion. That followed February's revised 2.1 percent drop that was previously reported as a 1.3 percent fall.

Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast construction spending falling 0.3 percent in March.

Public construction spending surged 2.3 percent in March, the biggest rise since February last year, reversing the prior month's 1.6 percent slump. Investment in private construction spending fell 0.9 percent to $550.81 billion, the lowest level since January 1999. Private construction spending fell 2.4 percent in February.

The decline in private construction spending in March was led by private home building, which dropped 1.1 percent. New home construction contracted in the first quarter of 2010 after two straight quarters of gains, subtracting from overall growth during the period, a government report showed on Friday.

Private nonresidential spending, suffering from high vacancy rates and tight access to credit, fell 0.7 percent in March, extending the 1.5 percent decline in February. Investment in structures has dropped for seven straight quarters.

State and local government investment in construction projects rose 2.5 percent in March after falling 2 percent in February. Federal construction rose 0.3 percent, building on a 2.9 percent

Source: Reuters, May 3, 2010

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