Construction Spending Eases in March After a February Blowout

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Contractors build a road in the Toll Brothers Inc. Regency at Palisades community in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 24, 2017.

Bloomberg News/Landov

Spending on construction dipped in March following an unusually strong pace of spending in February.

Construction outlays were down 0.2%, the Commerce Department said Monday. That was below the median forecast of a 0.5% gain from a MarketWatch survey of economists.

But it was offset by a big upward revision to February data, originally reported as a 0.8% gain. Now the Commerce Department believes spending rose 1.8% during that month. Unseasonably warm weather — it was the second-warmest February in over a century — certainly helped.

For the first three months of the year, spending was 4.9% higher than in the same period in 2016.

Much of the increase came from housing. Residential construction was up 1.2% during the month, but stood 7.3% higher than a year ago.

Overall private construction was flat in March, as lower levels of spending on public works continued to drag. Overall public construction was 0.9% lower during the month, and 6.5% lower than in March 2016.

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