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US construction spending flat in September

HOUSTON, November 1, 2018 (PCW) -- US construction spending was unchanged at a record high in September as continued gains in private construction projects were offset by the biggest drop in public outlays in a year, the Commerce Dept. said on Thursday. The flat reading in construction spending followed an upwardly revised 0.8% jump in August. Construction spending in August was previously reported to have gained 0.1%. Construction spending increased 7.2% on a year-on-year basis.

In September, spending on private construction projects increased 0.3% to a record high after rising 0.4% in August. Private construction spending was boosted by increases in both residential and nonresidential outlays. Investment in private residential projects rebounded 0.6% after declining 0.4% in August.

September’s increase came despite weakness in homebuilding amid rising mortgage rates, expensive raw materials as well as land and labor shortages. Residential investment contracted in the first nine months of this year, and is one of the risks to the economic expansion that is in its ninth year, the second longest on record.

Spending on private nonresidential structures, which includes manufacturing and power plants, edged up 0.1% in September to an all-time high after surging 1.4% in August. Spending on public construction projects fell 0.9% in September, the largest drop since August 2017, after vaulting 2.2% in August. Spending on federal government construction projects tumbled 6.8%, the most since June 2017, after soaring 5.3% in August. Investment in state and local government construction projects fell 0.5% in September after leaping 2.0 percent in August. -- Donna Todd

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