U.S. construction spending posts biggest drop in a year

Workers dismantle scaffolding at the Hudson Yards construction project is pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S. May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

WASHINGTON, June 1 (Reuters) - - U.S. construction spending recorded its biggest drop in a year in April as investment in both private and public projects fell, but a sharp upward revision to the prior month’s data pointed to underlying strength.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday that construction spending tumbled 1.4 percent. Spending in March was revised to show it jumping 1.1 percent to a record $1.24 trillion.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast construction spending increasing 0.5 percent in April after a previously reported 0.2 percent drop in March. Construction spending increased 6.7 percent from a year ago.

In April, private construction spending fell 0.7 percent, also the biggest decline in a year, after increasing 1.0 percent in March. Investment in private residential construction fell 0.7 percent after six straight monthly increases.

Spending on private nonresidential structures decreased 0.6 percent in April to its lowest level in almost a year. It was the third straight monthly decline.

Investment in residential and nonresidential structures such as oil and gas wells was one of the economy’s few bright spots in the first quarter. Gross domestic product increased at a 1.2 percent annualized rate in the first three months of the year.

Investment in public construction projects tumbled 3.7 percent in April, the biggest drop since July 2016, after increasing 1.6 percent in March.

Outlays on state and local government construction projects dropped 3.5 percent in April, also the biggest drop in nine months, after advancing 1.4 percent in March.

Federal government construction spending declined 5.7 percent to a nine-month low in April.

Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao