July 1, 2015 / 2:08 PM / 4 years ago

U.S. construction spending rises to 6-1/2-year-high

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. construction spending rose in May to its highest level in just over 6-1/2-years as outlays increased across the board, the latest sign of momentum

Men work on a construction site for a luxury apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles, California March 17, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

in the economy.

Construction spending increased 0.8 percent to an annual rate of $1.04 trillion, the highest level since October 2008, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday.

April’s outlays were revised slightly to show a 2.1 percent gain instead of the previously reported 2.2 percent rise.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast construction spending rising 0.5 percent in May. The government revised construction spending data going back to January 2013.

The construction spending report added to robust data on employment, consumer spending, consumer confidence and housing, in suggesting that growth was gaining steam after gross domestic product shrank at a 0.2 percent annual rate in the first

quarter.

The economy was hit by bad weather, port disruptions, a strong dollar and spending cuts in the energy sector at the start of the year.

In May, construction spending was lifted by a 0.9 percent increase in private construction spending to the highest level since July 2008. Outlays on private residential construction rose 0.3 percent, reflecting gains in home building and a slight increase in renovations.

Spending on private non-residential construction projects increased 1.5 percent to the highest level since December 2008.

Public construction outlays rose 0.7 percent to a seven-month high. Spending on state and local government projects - the largest portion of the public sector segment -gained 0.2 percent, also touching a seven-month high.

Federal government outlays jumped 6.3 percent after two straight months of declines.

Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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