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Construction Spending Rises 1% in Month

From Times Wire Services

New construction spending rose about 1% in April to an annual rate of $325.7 billion, the Commerce Department said Monday.

Spending had been essentially flat from February to March--at an annual rate of just over $322 billion both months--after a 2% jump from January to February.

Spending in April ran about 6% higher than a year earlier, the report said. All the figures are seasonally adjusted.

The bulk of the April increase was attributed to private, non-residential building, which was up 4% from March to an annual rate of $88.6 billion, compared to $85.2 billion in the previous month.

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Private residential construction fell 0.5% to $134.7 billion in April from $134.7 billion in March. Public construction rose from $58.4 billion to $58.7 billion.

Meanwhile, the Conference Board reported that consumer confidence declined in May after strong showings during the first four months of the year.

The business-sponsored research group said its consumer confidence index fell to 86.2, down nearly seven points from April’s reading of 93.1.

The group’s buying plans index also fell, to 86.1 from 101.4 in April.

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Consumers have begun to express growing concern about both current and future business conditions, the board said.

The latest survey results found that nearly 21% of the respondents rated current business conditions as bad, up from 18% in April.

Almost 33% said jobs were hard to get, up from less than 30% in the previous month.

Only 24% expected their incomes to rise over the next six months--the lowest figure in two years and down from 26% in April, the board said.

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