April 2, 2018 / 2:06 PM / 6 months ago

U.S. construction spending barely rises in February

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. construction spending rose less than expected in February amid a steep decline in investment in public construction projects.

FILE PHOTO: Construction lifts are parked near the Drydock Center in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

The Commerce Department said on Monday construction spending edged up 0.1 percent after being unchanged in January.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast construction spending accelerating 0.5 percent in February. Construction spending increased 3.0 percent on a year-on-year basis.

February’s marginal increase in construction spending could have implications for first-quarter gross domestic product growth estimates, which are mostly below a 2 percent annualized rate.

In February, spending on public construction projects tumbled 2.1 percent, almost reversing January’s 2.3 percent rise. February’s drop was the largest since June 2017.

Spending on federal government construction projects plunged 11.9 percent, the biggest decline since October 2004, after surging 13.4 percent in January.

State and local government construction outlays fell 1.0 percent after rising 1.3 percent in January.

Spending on private construction projects increased 0.7 percent after falling 0.7 percent in January. Outlays on private residential projects edged up 0.1 percent to the highest level since January 2007. They rose 0.1 percent in January.

Spending on nonresidential structures rebounded 1.5 percent in February after dropping 1.7 percent in the prior month.

Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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