The residential new construction market saw a slight decline, while the commercial market saw a modest increase.

NEW YORK - New construction starts in April held within 1 percent of March's figures, according to McGraw-Hill Construction. Total construction for April was reported at a seasonably adjusted annual rate of $545.4 billion, a slight 0.3 percent below the upwardly revised $547 billion for March.

The month's numbers saw a modest decline in residential construction, while nonresidential buildings and public works saw small gains. Residential buildings in April settled back 2 percent to $309.7 billion. Single-family housing slipped 3 percent in dollar volume compared to March, while multifamily housing stayed even with the previous month.

Nonresidential building was up 2 percent in April at $149.1 billion. The commercial categories registered more pluses than minuses, led by gains of 10 percent for stores and 21 percent for warehouses. The institutional side of the nonresidential market included a 6 percent gain for school construction and a 16 percent jump for health care facilities.

Nonbuilding construction in April also increased by 1 percent to $86.7 billion. Gains were reported for public-works projects, with sewers up 28 percent, water-supply systems up 10 percent, and riverfront and habor developments up 7 percent.

McGraw-Hill also reports that over the first four months of 2004, total construction on an unadjusted basis was up 9 percent compared to the same period last year.