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First Cut: Mild weather powers increases in construction spending in January

The total value of construction put in place rose 1.8% in January from December, powered higher by a 2.0% rise in spending on residential projects and a solid 1.6% gain in nonresidential. January had relatively mild weather that probably helped keep builders active during a period that is normally quieter. The value of construction for private single-family homes was up 2.8%, while spending on home improvements was up 1.5%. The demand for new residential properties is keen while mortgage rates are at their lowest in more than three years.  Consumers are finding it a good time to commit to buying a home and with existing units in short supply and are turning to new construction. Builders  have responded to that demand. Current homeowners are more likely to refinance to reduce monthly payments and may extract a little equity to make repairs and upgrades.

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