Construction spending falls in March

Original Article on Reuters.com, May 1, 2017

WASHINGTON - U.S. construction spending unexpectedly fell in March from a record high amid a pause in private construction investment after five straight months of increases.

The Commerce Department said on Monday construction spending slipped 0.2 percent. February's construction outlays were revised to show them surging 1.8 percent to a record $1.22 trillion instead of the previously reported 0.8 percent rise.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast construction spending increasing 0.4 percent in March. Construction spending advanced 3.6 percent from a year ago.

In March, private construction spending was unchanged after jumping 1.7 percent in February. Private construction outlays had increased for five consecutive months.

Investment in residential construction rose 1.2 percent.

Investment in homebuilding has now increased for six straight months. Spending on private nonresidential structures fell 1.3 percent in March after rising 0.8 percent in February.

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.

The government reported on Friday that gross domestic product increased at a 0.7 percent annual rate in the first three months of the year, constrained by weak consumer spending and a slowdown in the pace of inventory investment.

Investment in public construction projects fell 0.9 percent in March after surging 2.3 percent in February. Outlays on state and local government construction projects declined 1.4 percent in March after leaping 2.5 percent in February.

Federal government construction spending vaulted 4.5 percent after declining for two straight months.

(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci | Reuters)

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