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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%.

A Diversity of Performances among U.S. Building Product Manufacturers

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

Article source: CMDGroup

While U.S. national output and total employment have reached their previous peak levels, from before the Great Recession, and are now exploring new higher territory, construction activity is continuing to lag.

There are numerous way to illustrate this point. Today’s Economy at a Glance will focus on just one, utilizing a consistent set of data from the Federal Reserve representing the activity levels of a variety of building product manufacturers (BPMs).

The accompanying graphs show indices of industrial production, from 2000 to the present, in eight building commodity areas. In each instance, the index base is 2012’s monthly average set equal to 100.0.

North American Industrial Classification System (a.k.a., NAICS) numbers have been included in the ‘data source’ references at the bottom of each chart.

For ‘plywood’, ‘cement’ and ‘architectural and structural metals (e.g., engineered buildings)’, the trend in activity levels since the 2008-2009 Big Dip has been clearly up, but not yet to a degree indicating full recovery.

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