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U.S. Construction Spending Up 0.9% in December

02/01/2013 | 10:16am US/Eastern
 Construction Spending      Dec     Nov   ! Consensus:    ! 
 Overall Spending          +0.9%   +0.1%r !        +0.6%  ! 
 Residential               +2.1%   +0.7%r ! Actual:       ! 
                                          !        +0.9%  ! 
   By Sarah Portlock and Eric Morath 

WASHINGTON--Spending on U.S. construction projects rose in December, boosted by homebuilding, and finished out the year in positive territory for the first time since 2006.

Construction spending increased by 0.9% from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $884.98 billion, the highest level since August 2009, the Commerce Department said Friday.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a 0.6% increase.

Annual construction in 2012 was up 9.2%, the first year-over-year gain since before the financial crisis. Figures for November were revised upward to a 0.1% increase from an initially estimated 0.3% decline.

Private residential construction increased 2.2% to $308.15 billion for December, likely aided by rebuilding efforts in the wake of superstorm Sandy that hit the Northeast in late October. The Commerce Department said in a separate report this week that Sandy destroyed $35.8 billion in private assets and $8.6 billion in government property.

Spending on private home-building was up 16.8% in all of 2012, compared to a 0.8% drop in 2011.

Meanwhile, Friday's report showed private nonresidential construction rose 1.8% to $306.73 billion in December, boosted by power infrastructure, lodging and office projects.

Public construction spending fell 1.4% to $270.10 billion in December on transportation infrastructure, schools and sewers investments. That is the lowest level since 2006.

State and local outlays dropped 1.7%, but federal construction spending increased 1.3%.

Overall government spending in the fourth quarter fell by 15%, the Commerce Department said in a separate report.

The Commerce Department report on construction spending can be found at http://www.census.gov/construction/c30/c30index.html.

   Write to Sarah Portlock at sarah.portlock@dowjones.com and Eric Morath at eric.morath@dowjones.com 

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