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 The AEC Lens

Archive for August, 2015

As Fall Approaches, Key Aspects of The U.S. and Canadian Construction Outlooks

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Article source: CMDGroup

Yes, there are ongoing caveats concerning the U.S. economy – a disproportionate number of part-time as opposed to full-time jobs; high levels of student debt; the psychological hangover of recession-era foreclosures in the housing market; etc. Nevertheless, proof of greater strength is everywhere.

The bellwether initial jobless claims figure has been below 300,000 for 24 weeks in a row. This proxy measure for layoffs, during the week ending July 18, fell to its lowest level since 1973, when total employment was nothing like as high as it is now.

In both June and July of this year, total housing starts in America climbed above 1.2 million units (annualized) for the first time since before the recession. This was the logical result of residential building permits bettering 1.3 million units (annualized) in June.

And the almighty ‘greenback’ has become even more powerful, soaring above every other major currency, mostly by percentage changes that are in double-digits-plus.

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A Dozen Mid-August Economic Nuggets

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Article source: CMDGroup

Who can doubt that there’s an exchange-rate war underway? Almost all the world’s currencies have fallen to one degree or another versus the U.S. ‘greenback’. One of the few hold-outs, until recently, was China. Now, even Beijing has stepped back from parity.

The cries of alarm, though, have been overblown. If the yuan’s reduction doesn’t stray significantly from -2%, it won’t play a huge role in promoting China’s exports. To site an example from the retail sector, nobody ever holds a sale announcing that prices have been ‘slashed’ by 2%. If the slide continues and reaches -10%, that’ll be another story.

Since most commodities are priced in U.S. dollars, they will become slightly more expensive for Chinese buyers. This is another knock against owning the shares of companies engaged in supplying raw materials at this time. A deeper concern, though is what this says about the state of China’s economy. An output growth rate that was once 10% to 12% has slowed to a range of 6% to 7%. And that’s if China’s ‘official’ statistics are to be believed.

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