Construction spending declines

January 4, 2016 10:28 AM

U.S. construction spending fell for the first time in nearly 1-1/2 years in November as a drop in nonresidential investment offset an increase in housing outlays, pointing to moderate economic growth in the fourth quarter.

Construction spending slipped 0.4%, the first and also biggest drop since June 2014, after a downwardly revised 0.3% gain in October, the Commerce Department said on Monday.

The government revised construction data from January 2005 through October 2015 because of a "processing error in the tabulation of data." The revisions, which showed construction spending was not as strong as previously reported for much of 2015, could prompt economists to lower their fourth-quarter gross domestic product estimates.

Growth estimates are currently hovering below a 2% annual pace. The economy expanded at a 2% rate in the third quarter. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast construction spending rising 0.6% in November after a previously reported 1.0% increase in October.

Construction outlays were up 10.5% compared to November of last year. Construction spending in November was held down by a 0.8% drop in nonresidential construction.

Outlays on residential construction rose 0.2%.

Private construction spending slipped 0.2%, but spending on private residential construction rose 0.3%.

Public construction outlays declined 1.0%. Spending on state and local government construction projects, which is the largest portion of the public sector segment, slipped 0.4%. Federal government outlays tumbled 7.2%.

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