CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS: Spending on U.S. construction projects fell 0.3 percent in November, the first decline since March.
GOVERNMENT VS. HOUSING: The weakness reflected in part a steep 5.5 percent decline in construction spending by the federal government, a volatile category. This offset a 0.4 percent increase in residential construction, the eighth consecutive gain.
OUTLOOK: Housing construction is expected to keep making gains in 2013 as this sector keeps recovering from a deep slump. But the outlook is less bright for other sectors. Government spending is being constrained by tight budgets and there are lingering problems in commercial real estate as well.