U.S. construction spending up slightly in December

WASHINGTON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - U.S. construction spending barely rose in December as spending on nonresidential structures recorded its biggest drop since 2013, suggesting a mild downward revision to the advance fourth-quarter GDP growth estimate.

Construction spending ticked up 0.1 percent after a downwardly revised 0.6 percent drop in November, the Commerce Department said on Monday.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast construction spending rising 0.6 percent in December after a previously reported 0.4 percent drop in November.

December’s small increase and November’s slightly steeper decline could affect the government’s fourth-quarter gross domestic product estimate. The government reported on Friday that the economy expanded at a 0.7 percent annual rate in the final three months of the year.

Construction outlays increased 10.5 percent in 2015, the biggest rise since 2005, after advancing 9.6 percent in 2014.

In December, construction spending was constrained by a 2.1 percent decline in nonresidential structures, which includes factories and offices. That was the largest drop since January 2013. Outlays on private residential construction rose 0.9 percent, likely boosted by warm weather.

Overall, private construction spending fell 0.6 percent in December.

Public construction outlays shot up 1.9 percent. Spending on state and local government construction projects, the largest portion of the public sector segment, increased 2.3 percent. Federal government construction outlays dropped 3.3 percent. (Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)