Construction spending in the U.S. unexpectedly fell in July for the first time in four months as a plunge in home-improvement outlays overshadowed gains in homebuilding.

The 0.9 percent drop was the biggest decrease in a year and followed a 0.4 percent gain in June, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate of 47 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.4 percent rise. Outlays on remodeling projects, which are volatile, slumped 5.5 percent.

The report also showed public spending declined in July as budget constraints at all levels of government agencies curbed new building initiatives. Commercial projects also took a breather as looming fiscal policy changes deter developers, while single- and multifamily home expenditures advanced as record-low borrowing costs boost sales. See the rest of the story at