U.S. construction spending hits 4-1/2 year-high

WASHINGTON Mon Dec 2, 2013 10:09am EST

People walk near new single family homes under construction in San Marcos, California October 25, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake

People walk near new single family homes under construction in San Marcos, California October 25, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. construction spending rose to its highest level in nearly 4-1/2 years in October as a rebound in public construction projects offset in drop in private outlays.

Construction spending increased 0.8 percent to an annual rate of $908.4 billion, the highest level since May 2009, the Commerce Department said on Monday. Economists polled by Reuters had expected an increase of 0.4 percent.

Construction spending fell 0.3 percent in September. The release of the September report was delayed by a 16-day partial shutdown of the government in October.

Construction spending in August was revised to show a 0.1 percent rise instead of the previously reported 0.6 percent increase.

Construction spending in October was buoyed by a 3.9 percent jump in public construction projects, the largest increase since March 2004, after a 1.9 percent fall in September.

Public construction spending was boosted by a 3.2 percent increase in state and local government outlays, the biggest advance since February 2009, suggesting a major improvement in finances after years of belt-tightening.

A 10.9 percent surge in spending on federal government projects also supported public construction spending in October.

The increase in spending on federal construction projects was the largest since January 2011.

Spending on private construction projects fell 0.5 percent, pulled down by declines in both residential and nonresidential outlays.

That could be a sign that high interest rates were starting to have an impact on the economy, which bodes ill for investment in both residential and nonresidential structures in the fourth quarter.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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