Construction MMI: August 2020 construction spending up 1.4%

The Construction Monthly Metals Index (MMI) held flat this month, showing no movement from last month’s index value, as August 2020 construction spending picked up from the previous month.
October 2020 Construction MMI chart
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August 2020 construction spending

August 2020 construction spending in the U.S. reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,412.8 billion, per the U.S. Census Bureau.
The August rate marked a 1.4% increased from the revised July estimate. Meanwhile, August spending marked a 2.5% year-over-year increase.
Spending during the first eight months of this year totaled $927.7 billion, or up 4.2% compared with the first eight months of 2019.
Meanwhile, spending on private construction reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,061.4 billion, up 1.9% from July.
Within private construction, residential construction reached a rate of $589.4 billion in August, or up 3.7% from July. Nonresidential construction dipped 0.3% to $472.0 billion in August.
As for public construction, spending reached a rate of $351.4 billion, or up 0.1% from July. Under the umbrella of public construction, educational construction spending rose 0.6% for a rate of $82.6 billion. Highway construction rose 1.9% to a rate of $100.6 billion.

ABI holds at 40.0 for third straight month

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), released monthly by the American Institute of Architects, posted an August reading of 40.0. The August reading marked the third consecutive month with an ABI of 40.0.
The ABI is an economic indicator for nonresidential construction activity. Any reading less than 50 indicates a contraction in architecture billings.
“While fewer firms reported declining billings in August than during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fact that the score has been unchanged for the last three months means that the share of firms reporting increasing billings has not risen during that time,” the ABI report stated.
However, the report noted inquiries into new projects rose in August for the first time since February.
By region, the Midwest region led the way with an ABI of 41.7. The South checked in at 41.6, while the West posted a reading of 41.3. The Northeast came in far behind, with an ABI reading of 33.9.

Housing starts fall 5.1%

Privately owned housing starts in the U.S. fell 5.1% in August compared with the previous month, the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported.
Housing starts reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,416,000 in August.
Meanwhile, single-family housing starts in August came in at a rate of 1,021,000, up 4.1% from July. In addition, the rate for units in buildings with five units or more came in at 375,000.

Actual metals prices and trends

The Chinese rebar price rose 0.3% month over month to $538.40 per metric ton as of Oct. 1. Meanwhile, the Chinese H-beam steel price gained 1.1% to $541.34 per metric ton.
The U.S. shredded scrap steel price rose 9.7% to $272 per short ton.
The European commercial 1050 aluminum sheet price fell 3.4% to $2,494.95 per metric ton.
Learn when you should use a steel scrap cap collar contract versus a finished price index.

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