US April architectural index shifts into negative territory

22 May 2013 22:32  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--A key measure of future US construction activity shifted into negative territory for April after eight months in positive terrain, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) said on Wednesday.

The AIA said its April Architectural Billings Index (ABI) fell to 48.6, citing project-approval delays and credit constraints as reasons for the “negative trajectory”.

The March ABI fell to 51.9 from February’s 54.9.

Any score below 50 indicates a decrease in demand for architectural design services. One year ago, the ABI behaved in a similar pattern, moving below the dividing line to 48.4 after five months of positive market direction.

The latest ABI is the first negative score since July 2012 when the index was 48.7. The index moved to 50.7 in August 2012, and remained in positive territory until last month.

Although project delays and tight credit are among the principle factors that have prevented a broader recovery, AIA chief economist Kermit Baker said, “inquiries for new projects continue to be strong, [and] we’re hopeful that this is just a short-term dip”.

The ABI, derived from a monthly survey of AIA-member firms, reflects a lag of nine to 12 months between architecture billings and construction spending, according to the AIA.

The project-inquiries score for April fell by 2.7% to 58.5 in April from 60.1 in March.

In the construction categories, April declines ranged from 1% in the institutional sector to 9.3% in the mixed-practice sector.

Regionally, the AIA survey for April reflected lower numbers throughout the US, with the greatest weakness seen in the northeast. That region saw an 11.7% decrease, which sources attributed to persistent cold, wet and otherwise inclement weather that has contributed heavily to the delayed US spring paint and coatings season.

Every $1,000 (€780) spent on non-residential construction generates $160-230 worth of consumable chemicals and derivatives, according to the American Chemistry Council.

($1 = €0.78)

By: Larry Terry
1 713 525 2653

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