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US housebuilding boom buoys up construction spend
Spending on US construction projects rebounded in February, helped by a surge in home construction, which rose to the highest level in more than four years.

The US Department of Commerce said construction spending rose 1.2pc in February, compared to January, when it had dropped 2.1pc. Spending rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $885.1bn (£581.2bn), 7.9pc higher than a year ago.

The advance was led by a 2.2pc rise in private residential construction, which advanced 2.2pc to an annual rate of $303.4 billion, the best showing since November 2008. Private non-residential construction was up 0.4pc while public construction rose 0.9pc.

Construction spending is expected to keep growing this year, fuelled by more homebuilding and broader improvement in the economy.

Meanwhile, US manufacturing activity disappointed by expanding more slowly in March than February, held back by weaker growth in production and new orders, according to a key survey.

The one bright sign in the report was that factories hired at a faster pace.

The Institute for Supply Management says its index of factory activity slipped to 51.3pc, down from 54.2pc in February, which was the fastest growth since June 2011.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion. The index has signalled expansion for four straight months. But the drop in February growth was bigger than economists expected, suggesting some companies may have been wary of steep government spending cuts that began on March 1.

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