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US construction spending hits 10-1/2-year high

[WASHINGTON] US construction spending rose more than expected in November, reaching its highest level in 10-1/2 years, which could provide a lift to fourth-quarter economic growth.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday that construction spending increased 0.9 per cent to US$1.18 trillion, the highest level since April 2006. It was boosted by gains in both private and public sector investment.

Construction spending in October was revised up to show a 0.6 per cent rise instead of the previously reported 0.5 per cent increase. Construction spending was up 4.1 per cent from a year ago in November.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast construction spending rising 0.6 percent in November. November's better-than-expected increase and October's upward revision to construction spending could prompt economists to raise their gross domestic product estimates for the fourth quarter.

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Spending on private construction projects jumped 1.0 per cent in November to its highest level since July 2006 as single-family home building, as well as home renovations, increased.

Investment in private nonresidential structures - which include factories, hospitals and roads - rose 0.9 per cent after tumbling 1.5 per cent the prior month.

Public construction spending gained 0.8 per cent in November to the highest level since March. It was the fourth straight month of increases. Outlays on state and local government construction projects rose 0.6 per cent, also gaining for a fourth consecutive month.

Federal government construction spending surged 3.1 per cent after rising 0.2 per cent in October.