Sagging spending on public and private building projects pushed construction spending down 0.6 percent in August, following a 0.7 percent rise in July, the Commerce Department reported Monday. New construction projects were launched in August at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $396.1 billion, down 0.6 percent from the revised July rate of $398.3 billion, the department's Census Bureau said. In another report, orders to U.S. factories rose a sharp 3.1 percent in August. The Commerce Department said those orders rose $6.8 billion to $226.6 billion, rebounding from a 3.6 percent decline in July,

the steepest in 18 months. The June increase of 5.4 percent had been the biggest jump in 17 years. Excluding the volatile defense goods category, orders rose 2.7 percent in August.