US January architectural index fell but still points to growth

22 February 2012 18:53  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--A statistical index of future US construction slipped marginally in January but remained in positive territory, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) said on Wednesday.

The AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) fell to 50.9 for January, down only a fraction from the seasonally adjusted reading of 51.0 in December. Any score higher than 50 indicates positive demand for architectural design services.

In October 2011 the index reversed direction, rising by nearly 3 points to 49.4. Since November, the ABI has been at or above 50.

January’s new-project enquiries index also fell slightly to 61.2 from 61.5 in December, the AIA said.

“Even though we had a similar upturn in design billings in late 2010 and early 2011, this recent showing is encouraging because it is being reflected across most regions of the country and across the major construction sectors,” AIA chief economist Kermit Baker said.

He tempered that optimism, however, by saying that because some architecture firms are still struggling amid continued uncertainty in the market, overall economic improvements in the design and construction sector will be modest in the coming months.

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

Regional results for January were split, with marginal gains in the west and Midwest, and declines of 4-5% in the northeast and the south.

January saw construction-sector results mostly down, with improvement only in the mixed-practice category, where the index rose to 46.1 for January from 44.5 in December.

Every $1,000 (€750) spent on non-residential construction generates $160-230 worth of consumable chemicals and derivatives, according to the American Chemistry Council.

($1 = €0.75)

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

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