The Commerce Department has reported that the total value of building projects underway came reached a seasonally adjusted $910.6 billion in September, representing a 1.3 percent jump from the previous month. The $910.6 billion level was an all-time monthly high and the 1.3 percent increase exceeded analysts' expectations for a more modest advance of around 0.4 percent.

Spending by private builders on housing projects rose by 1.4 percent in September to a rate of $471.4 billion, the highest monthly level on record. Although housing activity is expected to slow in the current quarter, home sales are expected to reach record highs for all of 2003.

In Monday's construction report, the value of all construction by private builders - both residential and commercial - rose by 1.7 percent in September to a rate of $690.6 billion, the best month on record.

Spending on hotels and motels, office buildings, factories and power plants were among the categories showing gains. Spending, however, was trimmed on transportation and communications projects by private builders.

Spending by the government on big public works projects, meanwhile, was flat at $220 billion in September. Higher spending on highways and streets and power plants was blunted by lower spending on housing, health care buildings and public safety facilities.