Construction MMI: U.S. Construction Spending Drops 2% YoY

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Metal Prices

The Construction Monthly Metals Index (MMI) retraced by one point this month, falling for a November MMI reading of 76.

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U.S. Construction Spending

U.S. construction spending in September ticked up compared with the previous month, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

September spending came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,293.6 billion, up 0.5% compared with August’s $1,287.1 billion.

September spending, however, dropped 2% on a year-over-year basis, down from September 2018’s $1,319.7 billion.

Private construction spending reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $961.7 billion, up 0.2% from August’s $959.9 billion. Under the umbrella of private construction, residential construction spending reached an adjusted annual rate of $511.4 billion, up 0.6% from the previous month. Nonresidential construction reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $450.3 billion, down 0.3% from August.

Meanwhile, under public construction, spending reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $331.9 billion, up 1.5% from August. Educational construction reached $78.9 billion, up 3.1% from August. Highway construction checked in at a rate of $98.0 billion, up 2.6% from the previous month.

ABI Shows Slight Contraction

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), produced monthly by the American Institute of Architects, checked in at 49.7 this month, up from 47.2 the previous month. Any reading below 50 indicates billings contraction.

By region, the South led the way in September with an ABI of 52.3, followed by the West (51.3). The Northeast (46.3) and Midwest (45.3) posted contractionary readings.

“Business conditions remained generally flat at architecture firms in September,” this month’s ABI report noted. “But while the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score remained below the 50 threshold at 49.7 (a score over 50 indicates billings growth, a score below 50 indicates a decline), that score is 2.5 points higher than the August score, indicating that fewer firms saw declining billings in September.”

This month’s ABI survey asked industry professionals about the impact of project changes or delays.

More than half of respondents (52%) said they had experienced at least one project that was either significantly delayed or put on hold, redesigned or scaled back, or canceled outright.

Meanwhile, 46% of respondents said they haven’t had any significant project delays, changes or cancelations this year.

Pending Home Sales Rise for Second Straight Month

Pending home sales increased in September for the second straight month, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Contract signings increased 3.9% in September on a year-over-year basis. NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index jumped 1.5% for a September reading of 108.7 (a reading of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001).

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Actual Metal Prices and Trends

Chinese rebar held flat this month at $525.82/mt. Chinese H-beam steel fell 2.1% month over month to $521.55/mt as of Nov. 1.

U.S. shredded scrap steel fell 11.4% to $225/st.

European commercial 1050 aluminum sheet ticked up slightly to $2,474.57/mt.

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