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US construction spending up a strong 1.4 per cent in October


WASHINGTON — U.S. construction spending surged 1.4 per cent in October, the best gain in five months, with all major categories of building posting gains.

The October spending increase was the third monthly gain after more modest advances of 0.3 per cent in September and 0.5 per cent in August, the Commerce Department said Friday.

Home building was up 0.4 per cent, with strength in single-family construction offsetting a drop in apartment building. Nonresidential construction rose 0.9 per cent after four straight declines. Spending on government projects jumped 3.9 per cent, the biggest one-month gain in three years, with spending at the federal and state and local levels all showing increases.

Though home building has been weak for much of the year, economists expect such construction to rebound as a strong job market boosts sales in coming months.

The overall economy grew at a healthy annual rate of 3.3 per cent in the July-September quarter, the best showing in three years, even though residential construction declined for a second straight quarter. But economists remain optimistic that the low level of unemployment — 4.1 per cent in October — will spark a sustained rebound in sales and construction.

The strength in October was evident in all major sectors of construction. The rise in housing construction reflected a 0.3 per cent gain in single-family homes, which offset a 1.6 per cent drop in the smaller apartment category.

In the non-residential area, office building was up a strong 4.4 per cent, and hotel construction rose 2.3 per cent. Those gains offset a 1.9 per cent fall in the category that covers shopping centres.

In government categories, spending at the state and local level rose 3.3 per cent, while spending on federal projects jumped 11.1 per cent.

Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press

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