June 3, 2019 / 2:14 PM / 3 months ago

U.S. construction spending unchanged, residential spending stays soft

FILE PHOTO: Cranes are seen among construction equipment in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., February 10, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. construction spending was unchanged in April on a sharp jump in public construction outlays, while spending on private residential projects fell for the fourth straight month.

Data for March was revised to show construction spending rising 0.1% instead of declining 0.9% as previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast construction spending rising 0.4% in April. Construction spending was down 1.2% on a year-on-year basis in April.

In April, spending on public construction projects rose 4.8% after increasing 0.5% in March. It was the fourth consecutive monthly rise. Federal construction spending soared 7.4%, the biggest jump in 1-1/2 years.

Private construction outlays fell 1.7% to the lowest level since January 2017 after being unchanged in March.

Investment in private residential projects slipped 0.6% to the lowest level since December 2016, after a 1.2% drop in March. The outlook for the housing market has improved recently as mortgage rates ease from last year’s lofty levels, but building remains constrained by labor and land shortages.

Spending on private nonresidential structures, which include manufacturing and power plants slumped 2.9% in April, the biggest drop in more than six years, after rising 1.3% in March

Reporting by Andrea Ricci; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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