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US construction spending flat in Jan

[WASHINGTON] US construction spending was unexpectedly flat in January as a surge in investment in public construction projects was offset by a decline in private outlays.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday the virtually unchanged reading in construction spending followed an upwardly revised 0.8 per cent jump in December.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast construction spending increasing 0.3 per cent in January after a previously reported 0.7 per cent advance in December. Construction spending increased 3.2 per cent on a year-on-year basis.

In January, spending on private construction projects fell 0.5 per cent after increasing 0.6 per cent in December. Outlays on private residential projects rose 0.3 per cent after dropping 0.5 per cent in December.

Spending on nonresidential structures tumbled 1.5 per cent in January, almost reversing December's 1.8 per cent jump.

Outlays on public construction projects increased 1.8 per cent in January to the highest level since August 2015, after rising by the same margin in December.

Spending on federal government construction projects vaulted 14.9 per cent to the highest level since September 2011. State and local government construction outlays rose 0.5 per cent to levels last seen in March 2016.