US: Construction Spending

Mon Nov 02 09:00:00 CST 2015

Consensus Consensus Range Actual Previous
Construction Spending - M/M change 0.4% -0.1% to 1.0% 0.6% 0.7%
Construction Spending - Y/Y change 14.1% 13.7%

Construction spending looks solid, up a better-than-expected 0.6 percent in September with gains led by housing components. Residential spending extended six months of strong gains with a 1.9 percent increase for a year-on-year gain of 17.1 percent which is 3 percentage points better than the rate for total construction, at 14.1 percent. New multi-family units continue to lead the residential component, up 4.9 percent for a 26.7 percent year-on-year gain, while new single-family homes rose 1.3 percent for a more than respectable year-on-year gain of 12.7 percent.

Private nonresidential construction has also been strong this year but not in September, down 0.7 percent including declines for most subcomponents especially both power and commercial. Still, the year-on-year rate for private nonresidential is plus 14.9 percent. Readings on public construction, up a total 0.7 percent in the month, are also favorable with subcomponents trending at or near double-digit year-on-year growth.

The gains in this report, especially for multi-family units, are the outcome of a spike in permits during the spring. Permits, however, have not been showing great strength in recent months, in turn pointing to moderation for what still looks to be, however, a solid construction sector.

Market Consensus Before Announcement
Construction spending, expected to rise 0.4 percent in September, may be ramping up but sales of new homes, at least, are moving lower. The residential component of this report has been a center of strength, up 1.3 percent in August for a year-on-year rate of plus 16 percent. But new homes of this component, unlike multi-family homes, have been lagging.

The dollar value of new construction activity on residential, non-residential, and public projects. Data are available in nominal and real (inflation-adjusted) dollars.

Construction spending has a direct bearing on stocks, bonds and commodities because it is a part of the economy that is affected by interest rates, business cash flow and even federal fiscal policy. In a more specific sense, trends in the construction data carry valuable clues for the stocks of home builders and large-scale construction contractors. Commodity prices such as lumber are also very sensitive to housing industry trends.

Businesses only put money into the construction of new factories or offices when they are confident that demand is strong enough to justify the expansion. The same goes for individuals making the investment in a home.

A portion of construction spending is related to government projects such as education buildings as well a highways and streets. While investors are more concerned with private construction spending, the government projects put money in the hands of laborers who then have more money to spend on goods and services.

On a technical note, construction outlays for private residential, private nonresidential, and government are key inputs into three components of GDP--residential investment, nonresidential structures investment, and the structures portion of government expenditures.

That is why construction spending is a good indicator of the economy's momentum.