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) -- An unexpected jump in construction spending in June sent shares of homebuilders rallying in afternoon trading.

The Commerce Department said on Monday that construction spending increased 0.3% during the month, surpassing analysts' forecasts of a 0.5% decline.

The news sent shares of

Toll Brothers

(TOL) - Get Toll Brothers, Inc. Report

up 1.6% to $19.87,

Pulte Homes

(PHM) - Get PulteGroup, Inc. Report

grew 3% to $11.70,



spiked 4% to $11.32,

KB Home

TheStreet Recommends

(KBH) - Get KB Home Report

grew 3% to $17.20 and


(LEN) - Get Lennar Corporation Class A Report

jumped 3% to $12.18.

But results were still 10.2% below last year's level.

Residential construction, which inched up 0.5%, drove the better-than-expected results. Public construction increased 1%, its biggest jump since March, and federal government construction grew 1.9%, the most since December 2008.

This is just another positive in the growing list of good news in the housing sector. Last week the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index

saw its first monthly increase in three years


new home sales grew 11%

in June and

existing home sales grew 3.6%

during the month.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

Copyright 2009 Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.