The Construction Monthly Metals Index (MMI) lost three points this month, hitting 90 for our August MMI reading.
U.S. Construction Spending, Employment
According to U.S. Census Bureau data, U.S. construction spending in June fell 1.1% from the previous month.
Spending in June hit $1,317.2 billion, down from $1,332.2 billion in May. However, the June spending time marks a 6.1% increase from the June 2017 spending total of $1,241.3 billion.
For the first six months of the year, spending hit $619.9 billion, marking a 5.1% increase from the same period in 2017.
Broken down further, private construction spending hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,019.8 billion, or 0.4% below the revised May estimate of $1,023.9 billion. With private construction, residential construction hit $568.3 billion in June, down 0.5% from the revised May estimate of $570.9 billion. In addition, nonresidential construction was down 0.3%, amounting to $451.5 billion in June.
As for public construction, spending in June hit $297.4 billion, 3.5% below the revised May estimate of $308.3 billion. Under the umbrella of public construction, educational construction was down 11%, amounting to $67.9 billion. Highway construction was down 1.3%, hitting $93.9 billion for the month.
Meanwhile, according to preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, construction employment hit 7,222,000 in June, up from 7,209,000 in May.
Billings Growth Slows
Architecture billings growth continued in June, according to the Architecture Billings Index (ABI), but the pace of growth slowed last month. Nonetheless, June marked the ninth straight month of billings growth.
The June ABI hit 51.3, down from the previous month’s 52.8 (any reading above 50 indicates growth).
By region, however, the billings landscape was a mixed bag.
The South region posted a 57.4, while the Northeast posted modest growth with a reading of 50.2. The Midwest and West lagged behind, however, with readings of 49.8 and 46.9, respectively.
In this month’s survey of industry professionals, many indicated rising expenses was a concern.
“More than nine in 10 firms (92 percent) indicated that they are concerned to some degree about managing the costs of running their firm at the present, with 52 percent reporting that it is a major concern, and 40 percent reporting that it is a minor concern,” the ABI report states. “Small firms tended to be less concerned about firm expenses than large firms, although firms of all sizes were generally concerned.”
Actual Metal Prices and Trends
The U.S. shredded steel scrap price held flat at $371/short ton.
Chinese rebar fell slightly, dropping 0.2% to $623.84/metric ton. Chinese H-Beam steel fell 6.0% to $606.22/mt.
European commercial 1050 sheet aluminum fell 4.4% to $2,867/mt.
Chinese iron ore PB fines fell 2.8% to $77.06/dry metric ton.