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WASHINGTON, Jan 2 (Reuters) - U.S. construction spending rose to its highest level in nearly five years in November as a surge in private construction projects offset a drop in public outlays.
Construction spending increased 1 percent to an annual rate of $934.4 billion, the highest level since March 2009, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. It was the eighth straight month that construction spending increased.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected a gain of 0.6 percent in November. Construction spending in October was revised to show a 0.9 percent rise instead of the previously reported 0.8 percent increase.
The report added to data ranging from employment to consumer spending that have suggested resilience in the economy even as growth is expected to step down from the third-quarter's brisk 4.1 percent annual rate.
Construction spending in November was lifted by a jump in private construction projects to their highest level since December 2008. Private construction spending rose 2.2 percent after being flat in October.
The increase reflected strong gains in spending on both residential and nonresidential projects. Private residential spending hit its highest level since June 2008 and outlays on nonresidential structures, which include factories and gas pipelines, touched an 11-month high.
Public construction spending fell 1.8 percent as both outlays on federal and state and local government projects declined.