US construction spending up solid 0.9 percent in December with first annual gain since 2006

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Spending on U.S. construction projects rose in December, ending a year in which construction activity increased for the first time in six years.

The Commerce Department says construction spending rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $885 billion in December, up 0.9 percent from November, when spending increased a revised 0.1 percent.

For all of 2012, construction spending totaled $850.2 billion, a gain of 9.2 percent from 2011, when construction spending had fallen 3.3 percent. Even with the increase, construction activity is 27.2 percent below the all-time high of $1.17 trillion set in 2006 at the peak of the housing boom.

Construction has been posting a slow recovery, led by housing gains. In December, housing and nonresidential construction posted gains but spending on government projects fell.