WASHINGTON, April 1 U.S. construction spending
barely rose in February as outlays on private residential
construction projects recorded their biggest decline in seven
months, a sign that severe weather continues to hobble the
Construction spending edged up 0.1 percent to an annual rate
of $945.7 billion, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday.
Construction spending in January was revised to show a 0.2
percent drop instead of the previously reported 0.1 percent
gain. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast construction
outlays to be flat in February.
An unusually cold and snowy winter disrupted economic
activity early in the year. Growth in the first three months of
this year is expected to have slowed to an annualized pace below
2 percent after the economy expanded at a 2.6 percent rate in
the fourth quarter.
Activity, however, is showing signs of accelerating as
temperatures warm up, with employment growth, industrial
production and retail sales gaining momentum in February.
Construction spending in February was curbed by a 0.8
percent drop in private residential construction projects, which
was the largest fall since last July.
However, a 1.2 percent surge in spending on nonresidential
construction projects, which include factories and gas
pipelines, lifted overall private outlays to their highest level
since December 2008.
The decline in private residential construction was led by a
1.1 percent drop in single-family home building.
Public construction spending nudged up 0.1 percent in
February, with a 5.8 percent jump in federal government outlays
offsetting a 0.5 percent fall in state and local government
(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)