U.S. Construction Spending Falls on Weak Government Expenditures

Markets Reuters

(Reuters)

U.S. construction spending unexpectedly fell in January as the biggest drop in public outlays since 2002 offset gains in investment in private projects, pointing to moderate economic growth in the first
quarter.

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The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that construction
spending declined 1.0 percent to $1.18 trillion. Construction
spending in December was revised to show a 0.1 percent increase
rather than the previously reported 0.2 percent decline.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast construction
spending gaining 0.6 percent in January. Construction spending
increased 3.1 percent from a year ago.

In January, public construction spending tumbled 5.0
percent, the largest drop since March 2002. That followed a 1.4
percent decline in December. Public construction spending has
now decreased for three straight months.

Outlays on state and local government construction projects
dropped 4.8 percent, also the biggest drop since March 2002.
Spending on state and local government construction projects has
dropped for three straight months.

Federal government construction spending plummeted 7.4
percent, the largest decline since May 2014. The drop snapped
three consecutive months of gains.

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Spending on private construction projects rose 0.2 percent
in January, advancing for a fourth straight month. Spending on
residential construction projects increased 0.5 percent to the
highest level since August 2007.

Investment in private nonresidential structures was
unchanged in January after two straight monthly increases.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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