Construction spending falls 0.8% in October

WASHINGTON — Spending on U.S. construction projects fell 0.8% in October, dragged down by declines in apartment and multi-family homebuilding.

Private construction spending declined 1% in October, the Commerce Department said Monday. That follows another significant 1.1% decline in September.

Overall private residential construction dipped 0.9%, with multifamily projects declining 1.6% in October after a 2.1% decline in September.

Spending on single-family home construction increased 1.6%, helping to offset some of the losses elsewhere in the private construction category during the month.

Last month, the government reported that U.S. homebuilding jumped 3.8% in October, with developers anticipating steady demand.

Lower mortgage rates and a healthy job market with rising wages have boosted home sales and the demand for new homes. The average rate on a fixed 30-year mortgage last week was 3.68%, a historically low number.

In October, spending on government construction projects fell 0.2%, with state and local projects declining 0.3% and federal building increasing 0.6%. It was the first decline in overall government construction spending since June.

Over the past 12 months, increased government spending on construction has offset declines in private expenditures on building.

October’s overall decline follows a downward revision of September’s number from a 0.5% increase to a 0.3% decline.

During the first 10 months of 2019, overall construction after adjusting for seasonal variations came in at an annual rate of $1.09 trillion in October, down 1.7% from a year ago.

UAW bolsters auditing after embezzlement

DETROIT — The United Auto Workers union has replaced its auditing firm, added four internal auditors and hired a big accounting firm to study its financial controls in an effort to prevent embezzlement and bribery discovered in a federal probe of the union.

The moves announced Monday by Secretary-Treasurer Ray Curry come after last month’s resignation of President Gary Jones, who has been implicated in the scandal. Several other union officials have been charged or implicated in the probe, which became public in 2017.

Curry says the reforms will put checks and balances in place to prevent financial misconduct.

“This top-to-bottom assessment of our financial and accounting procedures and policies will result in a stronger and more stringent financial oversight of all expenditures,” Curry said in a statement.

They are in addition to changes announced last month by Acting President Rory Gamble.

The new auditing firm will check all of the union’s finances for the past year. In addition, the Deloitte accounting firm will look into all of the union’s accounting and financial processes.

Also, the union hired four additional internal auditors to increase its auditing ability, and it’s reviewing financial training for all UAW employees responsible for financial and accounting duties. They’ll be trained on new procedures, labor laws and updated policies, the union said in a statement.

U.S. manufacturing index falls again

WASHINGTON — U.S. manufacturing output deteriorated for the fourth consecutive month, damaged by trade conflicts and a weakening global economy.

The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, said Monday that its manufacturing index dipped to 48.1 last month from 48.3 in October. Anything below 50 signals contraction. U.S. factories have been on a losing streak since August.

New orders, production and hiring all dropped for the fourth straight month. Export orders fell in November after rising in October.

Economists had expected the overall November index to rebound but remain below 50.

President Donald Trump has imposed import taxes on foreign steel, aluminum and thousands of goods from China. Businesses have been reluctant to invest until they have a clearer idea whether, when and how the trade conflicts will end.

Compiled from The Associated Press

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