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[WASHINGTON] US construction spending rose in May to its highest level in just over 6-1/2-years as outlays increased across the board, the latest sign of momentum in the economy.
Construction spending increased 0.8 per cent to an annual rate of US$1.04 trillion, the highest level since October 2008, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday.
April's outlays were revised slightly to show a 2.1 per cent gain instead of the previously reported 2.2 per cent rise.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast construction spending rising 0.5 per cent in May. The government revised construction spending data going back to January 2013.
The construction spending report added to robust data on employment, consumer spending, consumer confidence and housing, in suggesting that growth was gaining steam after gross domestic product shrank at a 0.2 per cent annual rate in the first quarter.
The economy was hit by bad weather, port disruptions, a strong dollar and spending cuts in the energy sector at the start of the year.
In May, construction spending was lifted by a 0.9 per cent increase in private construction spending to the highest level since July 2008. Outlays on private residential construction rose 0.3 per cent, reflecting gains in home building and a slight increase in renovations.
Spending on private non-residential construction projects increased 1.5 per cent to the highest level since December 2008.
Public construction outlays rose 0.7 per cent to a seven-month high. Spending on state and local government projects - the largest portion of the public sector segment - gained 0.2 per cent, also touching a seven-month high.
Federal government outlays jumped 6.3 per cent after two straight months of declines.