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February Construction Slips 4 Percent; Highways and Bridges Down

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $404.9 billion, new construction starts in February fell 4 percent from the previous month, it was reported by McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Nonresidential building lost momentum for the second month in a row, and the public works sector retreated after its elevated pace in January. Highway and bridge construction dropped 27 percent. Meanwhile, residential building in February was able to register modest growth. For the first two months of 2011, total construction on an unadjusted basis was $55.9 billion, down 9 percent from a year ago.

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Highway Construction Posts Gains in 2010

New construction starts in December climbed 19 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $450.2 billion, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Nonresidential building rebounded after a weak November, and Nonbuilding Construction was lifted by the start of several large electric utility projects. Gains were registered by highway construction, which rose 7 percent. Meanwhile, residential building in December showed slight growth, continuing the gradual upward trend of recent months.

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New Housing Starts Jump

Nationwide housing starts rose 14.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 596,000 units in January, according to figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department. The gain was due to a 77.7 percent increase in the multifamily sector, where significant month-to-month swings in activity are not unusual and where new building has been below expectations for the past several months, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Meanwhile, single-family housing starts remained virtually flat for the month, with a 1.0 percent decline.

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Construction Spending Lowest in a Decade

The U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce reported that construction spending during December 2010 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $787.9 billion, 2.5 percent below the revised November estimate of $807.8 billion. The December figure is 6.4 percent below the December 2009 estimate of $841.8 billion. The value of construction in 2010 was $814.2 billion, 10.3 percent below the $907.8 billion spent in 2009. That is the lowest level of construction spending in a decade.

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