March Construction Activity Retreats 1 percent

New construction starts in March slipped 1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $475.2 billion, it was reported by McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Both nonresidential building and housing fell slightly, while nonbuilding construction made a partial rebound from a weak February.

The construction start data for March produced a 143 reading for the Dodge Index (1996=100), compared to a revised 145 for February and 150 for January. Accordingly, the recent trend for the Dodge Index has been downward, with the first quarter of 2003 averaging 3 percent less than the previous quarter. "Last year the construction industry leveled off, and the early results for 2003 are now pointing towards a mild loss of momentum," stated Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge. "Single family housing has held up quite well, thanks to low mortgage rates, but other construction sectors have been dampened by the lackluster economy, the diminished fiscal health of the federal and state governments, and uncertainty related to the buildup towards war against Iraq. The quick end to hostilities has lifted some of the uncertainty, but it may take some time before the economy strengthens in a sustained manner, and it will be even longer before the federal and state governments see improvement in their fiscal positions. In this environment, the moderate slowdown experienced by construction during the first quarter provides a good indication of how the year as a whole will play out."

Nonresidential building in March dropped 1 percent to $140.8 billion. After registering growth in February, the commercial categories slipped back once again in March - stores, down 12 percent; hotels, down 16 percent; offices, down 24 percent; and warehouses, down 36 percent. "The commercial categories in recent months have shown an up-and-down pattern, so the March retreat following February's upswing is consistent with that trend," stated Murray. "After the extended declines during 2001 and 2002, the commercial categories now appear to be hovering at a decreased volume, which is likely to persist for at least a few more quarters." Although down from its February pace, hotel construction in March did include the start of a $143 million hotel/casino project in Las Vegas. The long-depressed manufacturing plant category was able to report a 10 percent gain in March.

The institutional side of the nonresidential market offset much of the March weakness for commercial building. The educational building category grew 5 percent, supported by the start of a $120 million bioengineering laboratory building at the University of California, Berkeley; plus the start of an $88 million library in Jacksonville FL. Healthcare facilities in March climbed 23 percent, while the public building category jumped 47 percent with the push coming from the start of a $113 million federal prison project in Arizona. Transportation terminal work was up 96 percent, boosted by the start of a $106 million terminal renovation at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Two institutional categories that lost momentum in March were churches, down 1 percent; and amusement-related projects, down 7 percent.

Residential building, at $247.5 billion, was down 2 percent in March. The slight drop was the result of a 3 percent decrease for single family housing combined with a 2 percent gain for multifamily housing. The level for single family housing was still very healthy, matching the average monthly pace reported in 2002. "Single family housing remains very strong for now, as the benefits of low mortgage rates continue to outweigh the negatives of sluggish employment and weak consumer confidence," Murray noted. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 5.7 percent during March, compared to 7.1 percent a year ago. By geography, residential building in March performed as follows - the South Central, up 6 percent; the Northeast, down 1 percent; the South Atlantic, down 3 percent; the West, down 4 percent; and the Midwest, down 5 percent.

Nonbuilding construction in March increased 3 percent to $87.0 billion. The volume of new highway starts was especially strong, rising 26 percent after the prior month's depressed amount. Congress finalized fiscal 2003 appropriations in early February, keeping funding for the federal-aid highway program within 1 percent of the previous year, and this apparently helped highway construction to rebound in March. Other public works categories showing March gains were sewers, up 18 percent; and river/harbor development work, up 33 percent. On the negative side, water supply systems dropped 10 percent, and bridges were down 37 percent from a robust February that included the start of a very large bridge project in the state of Washington. Electric utility construction in March fell 8 percent, resuming this category's descent after a brief upturn in February.

During the first three months of 2003, total construction on an unadjusted basis was 7 percent below the same period in 2002. Pulling total construction downward were declines of 15 percent and 22 percent for nonresidential building and nonbuilding construction, respectively, outweighing a 4 percent increase for residential building. On a regional basis, total construction in the January-March period was the following: the West, up 6 percent; the South Central, down 3 percent; the South Atlantic, down 8 percent; the Midwest, down 12 percent; and the Northeast, down 27 percent.

600450 March Construction Activity Retreats 1 percent
Date: 6 May 2003
Source: Glass Digest Magazine

See more news about:

Others also read

Local quality glass producer Emirates Glass Limited has won contracts to supply 68,000 square metres of its high quality EmiCool glass to five major projects in Dubai.
Southwall Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq:SWTX), a global developer, manufacturer and marketer of thin-film coatings for the electronic display, automotive glass and architectural markets, today announced that on Dec. 18, 2003, it secured an agreement for a new bank loan guarantee and equity financing package of up to $7.5 million from Needham & Company, Inc., its affiliates and Dolphin Asset Management.
When did the wine industry start using glass bottles, and how did they settle on their current size of 750ml? For the answer to these questions, you have to go back in time - back thousands of years to when wine was first cultivated and enjoyed.
Praxair, Inc. (NYSE: PX) today announced that its subsidiary Praxair Canada Inc.'s specialty gases plant in Paris, Ontario, Canada, is one of Praxair's first specialty gases plants in North America to complete the upgrade to ISO 9001:2000, the latest ISO 9000 standard for quality.
KUB Malaysia Bhd has accepted an offer from Nippon Sheet Glass Co Ltd (NSG) to acquire its 15% stake in Malaysian Sheet Glass Bhd (MSG) for RM32.6 million in cash, or RM2.68 per share.
Co-Ventures in Glass Containers (CVIGC, Ltd.) of Tampa, Florida, USA and Micro-Tek Canada, Inc. Of Toronto, Canada are excited to announce the beginning of a long term joint venture to combine their extensive experiences and resources to offer the Glass Container Industry globally a best value alternative for all their outsourcing needs in manufacturing, operations and technical assistance agreements, specifically targeted to the smaller manufacturers who have found the larger service companies to be cost and profit prohibitive.The principals of the two companies have found a global need for smaller glass companies who require excellent technical resources to properly compete within the industry without the high costs of employing their own staffs or outsourcing their requirements to the larger service companies whose own operating costs and overhead are substantial.

Add new comment