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Posts Tagged ‘Economic’

With Few Exceptions, U.S. Construction Material Costs Continue to Speak Softly

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Article source: ConstructConnect

Table 1 accompanying this article sets out U.S. price movements for numerous construction materials from a variety of time markers in the past to the present (i.e., July 2016).

The data comes from the Producer Price Index (PPI) series calculated and published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Graphs showing the history of the behind-the-scenes index figures on which the percentage changes in Table 1 are based also appear below.

Some of Table 1’s most significant shifts have been as follows.

The charge for softwood lumber in July of this year was +7.8% compared with six months earlier, but it was a more modest +3.0% when set next to July of 2015.

Top 10 Largest Construction Project Starts in the U.S. – July 2016

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

Article source: ConstructConnect

The accompanying table records the 10 largest construction project starts in the U.S. in July 2016.

There are several reasons for highlighting upcoming large projects. Such jobs have often received a fair amount of media coverage. Therefore, people in the industry are on the lookout for when job-site work actually gets underway. And, as showcase projects, they highlight geographically where major construction projects are proceeding.

Also, total construction activity is comprised of many small and medium-sized projects and a limited number of large developments. But the largest projects, simply by their nature, can dramatically affect total dollar and square footage volumes. In other words, the timing and size of these projects have an exaggerated influence on market forecasts.

Nonresidential Construction Starts Trend Graphs – July 2016

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Article source: ConstructConnect

Below are six graphs recording 12-month moving averages of ConstructConnect’s nonresidential construction starts.

When the value of the current month is higher than for the same month a year ago, the line will turn up; when lower, it will dip.

String a couple of similar positive or negative directional changes together over several months and one has a trend.

And that’s what the graphs are designed to do, show improving or deteriorating trends in a dozen major and more granular categories of construction work.


Nonresidential Construction Starts Trend Graphs – June 2016

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

Article source: ConstructConnect

Nonresidential Construction Starts Trend Graphs – June 2016 –

Below are six graphs recording 12-month moving averages of ConstructConnect ’s nonresidential construction starts.

When the value of the current month is higher than for the same month a year ago, the line will turn up; when lower, it will dip.

String a couple of similar positive or negative directional changes together over several months and one has a trend.

A Dozen Mid-April Economic Nuggets

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Article source: CMDGroup

It may just be the calm before another storm, but the economic news seems to have quietened down quite a bit over the last little while. As for the political news, as both the Democrats and Republicans race towards their leadership conventions in a few months, that’s another story.

The pain in the oil sector on account of the deeply depressed price of crude is finally leading to some self-correcting courses of action. In the U.S. and Canada, capital spending plans have been slashed and production levels in the fracking sector significantly reduced. Internationally, Iran isn’t expected to ramp up export sales as quickly as once thought. And other OPEC members, including Saudi Arabia, appear intent on re-imposing a degree of control over their output levels.

The global price of oil may have found a floor near $40 USD per barrel. That’s a lot better than when it was nosediving towards $20. Furthermore, it will still provide car drivers, when they fill up, with gasoline charges that are pleasing bargains. Freeing up money so that it can be spent in other areas will prove especially important as the summer vacation season quickly arrives.

Against this backdrop, there are the following additional ‘nuggets’ to be gleaned from the latest government agency and private sector data releases. The ‘soil’ is rich and the ‘crop’ abundant.

(1) Let’s begin with CMD’s own construction starts statistics. Perhaps the most informative way to look at the numbers is to compare the year so far (i.e., through the first quarter, 2016) with the same time frame in 2015. On such a basis, grand total starts, in ‘current’ (i.e., not adjusted for inflation) dollars, were +7.4%, with major type-of-structure sub-categories performing as follows: residential, +3.7%; non-residential building, +11.8%; and heavy engineering, +5.8%.

U.S. and Canadian City Long-term Home Start Trends – Proxy for Vitality Part 1

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Article source: CMDGroup

While practicing the ‘art’ of economics, sometimes the statistics just fall into your lap.

For example, heading into 2016, it was the consensus opinion among analysts that Ontario and British Columbia would have the best upcoming growth performances among Canada’s ten provinces.

Consequently, there were grins from ear to ear among my fraternity when March’s Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada showed Ontario with the largest year-over-year increase in jobs at +86,000, with British Columbia not far behind, at +72,000.

No other province was even close. In fact, the sum of Ontario and B.C., at +152,000, was greater than for the country as a whole, +130,000.

The material in this current Economy at a Glance continues in a similar vein. I’ve graphed the relatively long-term history of housing starts, from 1980 to the present, for the major cities in the U.S. and Canada and allowed Microsoft’s Excel to add a trend line.


Applying the High-tech Wizardry of Sparklines to Economic Data

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Article source: CMDGroup

Yes, I’m an economist first, but in my secondary role as ‘tech whiz’ – my wife and kids would guffaw at that assertion – I’ve come across an exciting feature of standard Excel spreadsheets that I feel must be shared with you.

Of course, there’s always the danger that I’ve finally clued in to something everybody else has known about for years. However, I’ve asked around and it seems most people aren’t yet aware of a tool called ‘Sparklines’ that is highly worthwhile.

And neat and cool and easy to use.

Let’s suppose you have a ‘wall’ of data, such as appears in Table 1 that accompanies this Economy at a Glance. I’ve included the row numbers and column letters for ease of explanation.

The statistics in cells ‘C2’ diagonally to ‘O22’ are percent changes of U.S. put-in-place construction investment, latest 12-month averages versus previous 12-month averages.

Canadian Put-in-place Construction Forecasts: Spring 2016 Edition (Part 1)

Thursday, February 25th, 2016


Article source: CMDGroup

Based on the latest ‘actuals’ from Statistics Canada, the spring 2016 forecasts, out to 2019, of construction capital spending − also known as put-in-place investment – have just been calculated by CanaData.

Versus the fall of 2015, the year-over-year projections have mostly been scaled back.

Grand total constant dollar (i.e., adjusted for inflation) construction will decline a further 3.1% in 2016 after a drop of 3.4% in 2015. 2017 will see a slight improvement of +1.0%, followed by +3.5% in 2018 and +4.3% in 2019.

In the fall of last year, the comparable percentage changes were: 2015, -2.2%; 2016, +0.5%; 2017, +2.7%; and 2018, +4.1%. There was no 2019 forecast at that time.

In current dollars, 2015’s grand total was $285 billion, or -2.4% compared with $292 billion in 2014.

After a further 1.8% decline in this current year, 2016 will chalk up a volume of slightly less than $280 billion.

Current dollar gains of 2.9% and 5.6% in 2017 and 2018 respectively will finally lift the total dollar value of all Canadian put-in-place construction activity above $300 billion two years from now.


Defying Usual Seasonal Decline, CMD’s January Starts Rose 9.8%

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Article source: CMDGroup

CMD announced today that January’s level of U.S. construction starts, excluding residential work, was $24.7 billion, an increase of 9.8% versus December. The nearly double-digit percentage increase was noteworthy since there is usually (i.e., average over 10-years-plus) a December-to-January decline, due to seasonality, of 8.5%.

Compared with January of 2015, the latest month’s starts level was +12.9%. Relative to average non-residential starts in January over the preceding five years, 2011 to 2015, the gain was +18.6%.

The starts figures throughout this report are not seasonally adjusted (NSA). Nor are they altered for inflation. They are expressed in what are termed ‘current’ as opposed to ‘constant’ dollars.

‘Non-residential building’ plus ‘engineering/civil’ work accounts for a considerably larger share of total construction than residential activity. The former’s combined proportion of total put-in-place construction in the Census Bureau’s December report was 63%; the latter’s was 37%.

Canada’s Currency Drop Encourages Cocooning

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

Article source: CMDGroup

My favorite meal when traveling on business or pleasure used to be breakfast in the hotel where I was staying. In the ‘old days’, a morning repast was almost invariably cheap, plentiful and delicious.

Last summer, I took my family to Chicago for some wonderful sightseeing. We live in Toronto. (Our oldest child has moved out of the house and he and his girlfriend undertake their own travel adventures.)

The price of the breakfast buffet where we were registered downtown was $32.50 USD. For the four of us, that would have come to $130.00 USD.

Such a charge would have been steep enough on its own. Factor in the value of the Canadian dollar at the time, and the price was going to be $160.00 CAD.

Consider the further devaluation in the loonie since then, and the pain rises to $185.00 CAD.

That’s serious coinage. It’s nearly enough to rent a tuxedo, which I’ve always considered to be an excursion into luxury land.

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