Construction Numbers Stun Street

Construction spending rose .8% in April, the most since August, beating economists' estimates.
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So is there a real estate recovery or isn't there?

Better-than-expected construction spending in April stunned the Street today, and would seem to signal a turnaround, in contrast to last week's dismal housing data. But these days, seriously, does anyone know?

Construction spending rose .8% in April, the highest increase since August, the Commerce Department reported on Monday. Economists had actually expected a 1.2% decline.

The results also marked the second straight month that builders boosted spending on construction projects around the country. Before March's uptick, construction spending had fallen for five straight months.

Private builders increased spending on housing projects by .7%, the first time since August private home builders boosted such spending.

Spending on all other construction projects grew 1.8% during the month, with increases on hotels and motels, factories, power plant and health care facilities offsetting declines in office buildings, amusement and recreation projects.

Spending by the government, however, dipped .6% in April, due to cuts on schools, hospitals and other health-care buildings, as well as sewer and water-supply projects.

The good news in construction spending follows a slew of mixed housing numbers last week.

While on Friday home builders

received a boost from a new tax credit

for first-time homebuyers, the rest of the week was built on a foundation of dreary data.

New home sales

missed economists expectations, and The National Association of Realtors also reported on Wednesday that while existing home sales grew 2% in April, home prices continued to fall, and unsold home inventory grew.

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