Industry Outlook

ABI Ends Year on Positive Note

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) concluded 2017 in positive terrain, with the December reading capping off three straight months of growth in design billings. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the December ABI score was 52.9, down from a score of 55.0 in the previous month.

This score still reflects an increase in design services provided by U.S. architecture firms (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.) The new projects inquiry index was 61.9, up from a reading of 61.1 the previous month, while the new design contracts index decreased slightly from 53.2 to 52.7

The Dodge Momentum Index dropped 5.1 percent in January to 143.7 (2000=100) from the revised December reading of 151.5. The Momentum Index is a monthly measure of a first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year.

On a year-over-year basis, the Momentum Index is 7.7-percent higher, with both the commercial and institutional components showing growth over January 2017.

New construction starts in December climbed 12 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $733.3 billion, bouncing back following November’s 12-percent decline, according to Dodge Data & Analytics.

In December, nonresidential building rose 10 percent to $240.3 billion (annual rate).

For all of 2017, total construction starts grew 3 percent to $745.9 billion, which followed the 6-percent increase reported for 2016.

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