Construction MMI: U.S. May Construction Spending Drops 2.3% Year Over Year

The Construction Monthly Metals Index (MMI) held flat at 81 for the July MMI reading.
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Construction Chart July 2019 FNL

U.S. Construction Spending

U.S. construction spending in May totaled an estimated $1,293.9 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, marking a 0.8% decline from April’s $1,304.0 billion.
The estimated May 2019 spending figure marked a 2.3% decline on a year-over-year basis; according to economists polled by Reuters, construction spending was forecast to increase 0.1% in May.
Private construction spending in May was $953.2 billion, down 0.7% from the revised April estimate of $960.3 billion.
Under the umbrella of private construction, May residential construction spending fell 0.6% from the previous month, down to $498.9 billion. Nonresidential construction spending fell 0.9% in May, down to $454.3 billion.
Meanwhile, public construction spending fell 0.9% to $340.6 billion. Under public construction, educational construction was nearly flat at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $79.3 billion. Highway construction fell 3.2% to $111.6 billion.

Billings Growth Ticks Up Marginally

After a decline in March billings, billings grew for the second straight month in May, according to the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) monthly Architecture Billings Index (ABI).
The May ABI checked in at 50.2 after recording a value of 50.5 in April; any value greater than 50 indicates billings growth.
Billings grew in the Midwest (51.6) and the South (51.4) regions, held flat in the West (50.0), and fell in the Northeast (47.6).
Despite the technical increase as reflected by the ABI, the past four months have showcased a slowdown not seen in seven years, according to the AIA.
“In fact, for the last four consecutive months, firm billings have either decreased or been flat, the longest period of that level of sustained softness since 2012,” the AIA said in its ABI release. “In addition, while both inquiries into new projects and the value of new design contracts remained positive, they both softened in May as well, another sign that the amount of pending work in the pipeline at firms may be starting to shrink.”

May Housing Starts Fall 0.9%

Last month, we reported U.S. housing starts, at a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.29 million, fell 0.9% in May compared with the previous month.
In addition, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported April pending home sales dropped 1.5% over the previous month. NAR’s Pending Homes Sales Index, which is based on contract signings, fell 2.0% in April, marking the 16th consecutive month of decline for the index.

Actual Metal Prices and Trends

The Chinese rebar price rose 0.6% month over month to $582.52/mt as of July 1. Chinese H-beam steel dropped 1.5% to $554.85/mt.
U.S. shredded scrap steel fell 7.1% to $274/st.
MetalMiner’s Annual Outlook provides 2019 buying strategies for carbon steel
European commercial 1050 aluminum sheet rose 2.3% to $2,552.81/mt.

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