On the heels of six out of seven months of increasing levels of demand for design services, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) fell just below the positive mark in August.

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An economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to 12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects reported the August ABI score was 49.7, down from the mark of 51.5 in the previous month. This score reflects a decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings).

“This is only the second month this year where demand for architectural services has declined and it is only by a fraction of a point,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “It doesn’t appear that this is the beginning of a broader downturn in the design and construction industry.”

OPEC members are now talking about a deal that lasts one year, whether that means curtailing production for that period is still unknown. Australia is attempting to collect $766 million in taxes.

OPEC Deal Could Last a Year

A possible deal to support oil prices by the world’s leading producer-countries may last for one year, the secretary-general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said on Tuesday, longer than other officials have indicated.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

OPEC and non-member producers including Russia are discussing a deal to stabilize the market by possibly freezing output, although key details such as the timing and baseline for any deal have yet to emerge.

BHP Vows to Fight Australian Tax Bill

BHP Billiton said it disagreed with Australian tax collectors’ assessment that the miner needs to pay $766 million in back taxes and charges for its Singapore commodities marketing hub, and that it could resort to court action to fight the claim.

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BHP is under investigation by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) for allegedly shifting billions of dollars in iron ore profits through marketing hubs in Singapore, where it operates under an effective tax rate of zero as part of a concessional tax deal.