Home building pushed US construction spending higher in January despite bad winter weather, government data released today has shown.

January construction spending rose 0.1%, the US Commerce Department said. 

That surprised analysts, who on average expected it to fall 0.1%.

Residential construction in the private sector led the increase, surging 0.9% from December.

Compared with a year ago, construction spending was up 9.3% and private spending on home building gained 13.9%.

Public construction spending fell 0.8% in January.

"Housing leads the way after only a brief pause," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist of Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Shepherdson noted the prior data was revised higher despite the unusually severe weather.

"After slowing sharply in the middle of last year, home builders evidently have decided that the favourable medium-term fundamentals are more important than the deterioration in affordability over the past year."