The Census Bureau reported late last week that U.S. construction spending was up during October by 0.5% compared with the September total. Year-over-year, construction spending in October was up by 3.45. During the first 10 months of the year, construction spending amounted to $972.2 billion, 4.5% above the same period in 2015.
Our Construction MMI was up 8.7% as domestic demand for construction metals shot up just as prices increased nearly across the board for the entire industrial metals complex.
Construction demand in the world’s largest metals consumer, China, continues to grow even as the central government there tries to restrict home buying, the engine for that demand.
“It’s likely that the government will expand infrastructure investment to make up for the gap left by property-related investment falling,” Julia Wang, China economist at HSBC told the Financial Times.
What is buoying construction the most is an investor class now excited about all industrial and construction metals. The election of President-elect Donald Trump promises $1 trillion in U.S. infrastructure investment and stronger protections against dumping of foreign imports.
Trump’s policies, while still in their formative stages, are seen as bullish for public construction, particularly infrastructure such as roads, bridges and airports. Stocks of construction companies and materials providers also jumped after Trump’s election.
Public construction spending actually accounted for most of the increase in U.S. construction spending in October — unusually, since that sector has been contracting in recent years — gaining 2.8% compared to September. Spending on educational facilities was especially brisk, up 4.1% for the month, while highway construction gained 1.9%. Compared with last year, however, public construction spending as a whole was off 0.6%.
While Chinese demand remains a concern, it’s a very good time to be a construction metals investor with positive sentiment nearly across the board when it comes to both construction and metals.
Actual Construction Metals Prices
Chinese rebar prices increased to $464.80 per metric ton this month, up from $416.12 per mt in November, a jump of 12%. Chinese H-beam steel increased to $447.37 per mt this month from $391.03 in November, a hike of 14.4%. European aluminum 1050 sheet was up to $2,662.46 per mt this month from $2,311.56 per mt in November, a big increase of 15%.