The Construction Monthly Metals Index (MMI) picked up two points this month, rising 2.2% for a September reading of 92.
U.S. construction spending in July — the most recently available month for Census Bureau data — hit $1,315.4 billion, which marked a 0.1% increase from the June 2018 revised total and a 5.8% increase from the July 2017 total.
Through the first seven months of the year, spending hit $740.5 billion, up 5.2% from the same period in 2017.
Private construction spending was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,010.9 billion, down 0.1% from the revised June estimate of $1,011.9 billion. Within private construction, residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $560.1 billion in July, up 0.6% from the revised June estimate of $556.7 billion. Nonresidential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $450.9 billion in July, down 1.0% from the revised June estimate of $455.3 billion.
Meanwhile, public construction was at an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of $304.5 billion, 0.7% above the revised June estimate of $302.3 billion. Within public construction, educational construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $71.6 billion, up 2.1% from the revised June estimate of $70.1 billion. Highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $94.2 billion, up 0.4% from the revised June estimate of $93.8 billion.
Architecture Billings Rise at Slower Rate
According to the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) — put out by the American Institute of Architects — architecture billings grew last month, but at a slower pace.
The ABI for August hit 50.7 (a reading of 50 marks no growth), meaning growth was relatively minimal.
“However, this is not yet cause for concern because indicators of new work in the pipeline—measured by inquiries into new work and the value of new signed design contracts at firms—both remained strong in July,” the ABI report for the month states.
Billings decreased in every region but the South, according to the report. The South region led the way with an ABI of 55.2, followed by the West (49.6), Midwest (49.3) and Northeast (48.0).
This month’s survey asked architecture industry professionals regarding the impact of tariffs on their businesses on the heels of recent U.S. tariffs and the resulting retaliatory tariffs.
Per the report, 37% of firms indicated that they have seen specific consequences on projects as a result of the tariffs, an increase from 24 percent that reported the same in April,” the report states. “However, 49 percent of firms reported that they have still not seen any impact, while the remaining 14 percent of firms indicated that they were not aware of or not sure of any impact.”
Construction Jobs Added
According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report released today, U.S. unemployment for August was unchanged from the previous month, holding at 3.9%.
A number of sectors added jobs in August, according to the report, including construction.
The construction sector added 23,000 jobs in August after adding 18,000 in July and 8,000 in June. Jobs in the sector have increased by 297,000 over the year, according to the report.
Actual Metal Prices and Trends
Chinese rebar steel hit $661.91/mt for the month, posting a month-over-month increase of 6.1%. Chinese H-beam steel rose 1.2% to $613.69/mt.
U.S. shredded scrap steel fell 4.6% to $354/st.
European commercial 1050 aluminum sheet rose 1.6% to $2,913.29/mt.
Chinese aluminum bar jumped 5.0% to $2,405.08/mt. China 62% iron ore PB fines fell 0.5% to $76.71/dmt.