WASHINGTON Feb 1 U.S. construction spending
fell more steeply than expected in December to its lowest level
since 2003, dragged down by a sharp drop in private residential
and state and local government construction, a government
report showed on Monday,
The Commerce Department said construction spending dropped
1.2 percent to $902.5 billion, falling for a second straight
month. November's construction spending was revised down to
show a 1.2 percent decline, instead of a 0.6 percent fall.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast construction
spending falling 0.5 percent in December. For the whole of
2009, construction spending fell by a record 12.4 percent.
In December, spending on private home building dropped 2.8
percent, the largest decline since May, after falling 1.4
percent the prior month. Residential investment is showing
signs of renewed weakness and made a modest contribution to
gross domestic product in the fourth quarter compared to the
previous three-month period.
Private nonresidential spending, which has been buffeted by
high vacancy rates and tighter access to credit, rose 0.2
percent in December after falling 0.9 percent the prior month.
Spending on state and local government construction projects
fell 1.5 percent in December after falling by the same margin
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)