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Construction spending rises 0.6 percent in September

Home constructionWASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. construction spending rose 0.6 percent in September to the highest level since March 2008, pushed up by a surge in apartment building.

The Commerce Department said Monday that spending on construction rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.09 trillion. Construction of apartments and condominiums jumped 4.9 percent in September from August, while construction of single-family homes rose 1.3 percent. Overall, private residential construction rose to the highest level since January 2008.

The housing market has proven relatively resilient this year amid economic weakness overseas that has hurt American manufacturers and limited hiring. Commerce reported last week that private investment in housing grew at an annual pace of 6.1 percent from July through September — four times the 1.5 percent growth registered by the overall economy.

Still, recent reports on the U.S. housing market have been mixed.

The National Association of Realtors reported last week that the number of Americans signing contracts to buy homes fell in September for the second straight month. Commerce also reported that new home sales plunged 11.5 percent in September to the slowest pace in 10 months.

But housing starts rose by 6.5 percent, and sales of existing homes jumped 4.7 percent in September.

On Monday, Commerce reported that spending on nonresidential construction slipped 0.1 percent in September. But spending on construction of churches and other religious buildings rose 5.6 percent.

Public construction grew 0.7 percent from August. Spending on schools and other educational buildings rose 2.4 percent, and spending on water supply facilities was up 4.8 percent.

Federal construction spending fell 1 percent, the biggest decline since a 4.4 percent drop in June.

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