Within the basket of metals, Chinese rebar and H-beam steel both dropped, while U.S. shredded scrap jumped 3.1%.
Chinese aluminum bar also dropped on the month, while European 1050 commercial aluminum sheet picked up a small gain.
U.S. Construction Spending
According to the most recently available U.S. Census Bureau data for the month of February, construction spending that month ticked up slightly from January.
Total construction spending hit $1,273.1 billion, up 0.1% from the January 2018 revised estimate of $1,272.2 billion. The February total is up 3.0% from the $1,235.7 billion in February 2017.
Construction spending for the first two months of the year was up 4.4% compared with the first two months of 2017.
Broken down by category, private construction spending was $982.0 billion, 0.7% above the revised January estimate of $974.8 billion. Residential construction hit $533.4 billion in February, 0.1% above the revised January estimate of $532.9 billion. Nonresidential construction was $448.6 billion in February, 1.5% above the revised January estimate of $441.9 billion.
As for public construction, spending was $291.1 billion, 2.1% below the revised January estimate of $297.4 billion. Within the umbrella of public construction, educational construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $74.6 billion, 0.5% below the revised January estimate of $75.0 billion. Highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $88.5 billion, 0.2% below the revised January estimate of $88.7 billion.
Architecture Billings Index Shows Strong Month for Billings
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), produced monthly by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), hit a reading of 52.0 for February (anything greater than 50 indicates growth). That number is down from the 54.7 reading the previous month.
“Firm billings have now increased for the last five consecutive months and 11 months out of the last year,” the ABI report stated. “Inquiries into new projects and the value of new signed design contracts both increased in February, as firms remain generally optimistic about future work in the pipeline.”
By U.S. region, the Northeast posted the weakest month with a reading of 47.5. Meanwhile, the West led the way with a 57.6. According to the report, firms in the West reported the “strongest conditions for the region in more than a decade.”
The Midwest posted a 54.5 while the South was on its heels at 54.4.
Actual Metal Prices and Trends
Chinese rebar fell 1.3% to $644.97/mt, while Chinese H-beam steel fell 2.8% to $606.75/mt. Chinese aluminum bar fell 3.1% to $2,360.12/mt.
U.S. shredded scrap rose 3.1% to $361/st.
European commercial 1050 sheet aluminum rose 0.4% to $3,023.02/mt.