(MENAFN - Saudi Press Agency)
Washington, Rajab 16, 1439, Apr 2, 2018, SPA -- Spending on US construction projects rose only slightly in February after being unchanged the previous month, the government reported Monday, supporting economist views that economic growth slowed in the first quarter of the year.
The Commerce Department said construction spending increased 0.1 percent in February to an annual rate of $1.27 trillion, as the growing economy is doing little to spark more rapid building of homes, hospitals, and highways. Over the past 12 months, construction spending has risen 3 percent.
Much of the weakness in February was due to a 2.1 percent drop in government-funded construction, which nearly reversed January's 2.3 percent rise. Spending on federal-government construction projects plunged 11.9 percent, the biggest decline since 2004, after surging 13.4 percent in January. State and local government spending fell 1 percent.
Private-sector construction has not yet surged, despite a 17-year low unemployment rate, increasing 0.7 percent in February. Residential construction—the biggest private-sector construction category—rose only 0.1 percent in February, but did record its highest level since 2007.
Spending on non-residential structures rebounded 1.5 percent in February after declining 1.7 percent the previous month. Spending on healthcare facilities dropped 2.2 percent. Spending on energy infrastructure increased 0.9 percent, but has plunged 8.5 percent over the past 12 months.
Spending on factory construction jumped 1.2 percent in February, but the gain came after months of steady declines. Over the past 12 months, spending on manufacturing facilities has fallen 5.6 percent.
February's marginal increase in construction spending could have implications for first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth estimates, which mostly are below a 2-percent annual rate.
20:44 LOCAL TIME 17:44 GMT