US October architectural index rises; volatility persists

16 November 2011 21:55  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--A measure of future US construction activity reversed direction in October, rising by nearly three points after falling in September, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) said on Wednesday.

The AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) reached 49.4 for October, up from 46.9 in September. Readings above 50 indicate rising demand for design services from AIA-member firms.

The September rating was a drop into negative territory from 51.4 in August. The August ABI had reversed a five-month slide in demand for architectural design services.

"An increase in the billings index is always an encouraging sign,” AIA chief economist Kermit Baker said. “But there continues to be a high level of volatility in the marketplace, with architecture firms reporting a wide range of conditions from improving to uncertain to poor.”

Baker said he expected those conditions to persist for several months.

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

October’s new-project enquiries index increased to 57.3 from 54.3 in September, a gain of nearly 6%.

Regional results for October were split, with marginal gains in the south and northeast, and decreases of 7% in the west and 6%  in the midwest.

October also saw construction sector results split, with the mixed-practice segment dropping by 16%  – its third decline in as many months – and institutional interest dropping by less than 2%.

Billings within the multi-family residential segment rose by 11%, eclipsing a 2% gain in the commercial/industrial sector, according to the AIA.

Every $1,000 (€740) spent on non-residential construction generates $160-230 of consumable chemicals and derivatives, according to the American Chemistry Council.

($1 = €0.74)

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