WASHINGTON - Construction spending was up 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted estimated annual rate of $816.4 billion in December, the highest level since April 2010, when it was $819.7 billion, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

The December rate was up from the revised November estimate of $804.0 billion and 4.3% above the December 2010 estimate of $782.9 billion.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had predicted a median 0.7% increase in the rate from November to December.

Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted estimated rate of $529.7 billion in December, 2.1% above the revised November estimate of $518.8 billion. The December figure was the highest since December 2009 when it was estimated at $532.2 billion.

Residential construction was $241.2 billion in December, 0.8% above the revised rate of $239.4 billion for November and the highest since June 2011 when it was $243.9 billion. Nonresidential construction was $288.5 billion, 3.3% above the revised November estimate of $279.4 billion. That figure is the highest since November 2009, when it was estimated at 297.0 billion.

Public construction spending was $286.6 billion, 0.5% above the revised November estimate of $285.3 billion.

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