US architectural index up again for September

23 October 2013 17:57  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--An indicator of the future health of the US construction industry continued its upward trajectory with an increase in September, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) said on Wednesday.

The AIA’s Architectural Billings Index (ABI), a reflection of contracted architectural design services, increased to 54.3, up from 53.8 in August.

The August index had increased from 52.7 in July after weakening in June.

Persistently negative conditions were given some of the credit for the higher index numbers.

“The prolonged economic downturn … has actually resulted in the increased productivity levels as reported by architecture firms,” AIA chief economist Kermit Baker said. Economic conditions have fostered “new approaches to business challenges”, new technology, and it has increased competition and renewed the focus on efficiency, he said.

The ABI, which is derived from a monthly survey of AIA-member firms, reflects a lag of 9-12 months between architecture billings and construction spending, according to the AIA.

The project-inquiries score continued to decline, however, slipping to 58.6 for September, down from 63.0 in August and 66.4 in July.

In the construction categories, multi-family residential building design services reversed direction, climbing to a new index of 55.6 after slipping to 52.1 in August. The commercial/industrial sector continued to improve, but there were declines in design activity in the mixed practice and industrial sectors.

Regionally, the AIA index for September rose marginally in both the south and west regions, while dropping similarly in the midwest and northeast.

The sector and regional categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, while the ABI and project-inquiries indices are monthly averages.

Every $1,000 spent on non-residential construction generates $160-230 (€117-168/tonne) worth of consumable chemicals and derivatives, according to the American Chemistry Council.

($1 = €0.73)

By: Larry Terry
1 713 525 2653

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