US Feb architectural index inches up, recovery still slow - AIA

23 March 2011 18:20  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The outlook for future US construction activity improved slightly in February from the previous month, indicating that the economy is still only lumbering toward recovery, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) said on Wednesday.

The AIA’s February Architecture Billings Index (ABI) was 50.6, up from 50.0 in January, indicating a slight increase in billings for architectural design services.

The ABI results reflect a lag of 9-12 months between architecture billings and construction spending, according to the AIA.

A year ago, strict credit terms were suppressing the launch of design projects. The February 2010 ABI was at 44.8, indicating a continued, but slower decline in demand for architectural design services from AIA-member architects.

During the last two months, “overall demand for design services seems to be treading water”, AIA chief economist Kermit Baker said. He had predicted a gradual improvement in business conditions at architecture firms and said the AIA still expects recovery to “move at a slow but steady pace.”

The February new-project inquiries index slipped, however, to 56.4 from January’s 56.5.

Regionally, February results declined in all geographic areas except the west, where the index rose by about 4% to 49.1 from 47.3 the previous month. Declines were marginal in the midwest and the south, but dropped by 8% in the northeast, according the AIA survey.

Among construction sectors, the ABI for February fell in the institutional sector and again in the multi-family residential sector. The index rose in the commercial-industrial and mixed-practice sectors by less than a percentage point and by 5%, respectively.

Every $1,000 spent on non-residential construction generates $160-230 (€112-161) worth of consumable chemicals and derivatives, according to the American Chemistry Council.

($1 = €0.70)

Paul Hodges studies key influencers shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Larry Terry
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