The Dodge Momentum Index fell 4.9 percent in December to 151.9 (the year 2000=100) from the revised November reading of 159.7. The Momentum Index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the 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.

The decline in December was due to a 7.6-percent drop in the commercial component of the momentum index, while the institutional component fell 0.7 percent. For the full year, the index gained 4.3 percent from the end of 2017, with the institutional component increasing 8.5 percent over the year and the commercial component moving 1.6-percent higher.

While the overall momentum index registered a gain for the full year, this was realized in the first half of 2018. During the final six months of the year, it fell 4.4 percent, with the commercial component losing 7.2 percent and the institutional component remaining essentially flat. This suggests that spending for commercial buildings may be reaching its cyclical peak, while spending for institutional buildings continues to be supported by the stabilizing influence of public funding for projects such as schools and transportation terminals.