Construction Spending, Commodity Prices Continue to Fall Amid Global Crisis
Estimated total construction spending in February fell 1.3% below January's estimated numbers, at a seasonally adjusted rate, according to a report published by the U.S. Census Bureau on April 1. February's rate of $1,366.7 billion is 6% lower than February 2019's numbers. Private construction was estimated at $1,025.8 billion, seasonally adjusted, 1.2% below January's numbers. Residential construction fell 0.6% while non residential work was down 2% in the same time period. Public construction spending decreased 1.5%, to 340.9 billion.
The Dodge Momentum Index, which measures initial reporting of nonresidential building projects in the planning stage, showed a small 0.6% drop in March. The commercial side fell 0.8% while institutional planning was 0.2% lower. However, it remains to be seen if the early planning stages move forward at the usual pace amid so much uncertainty.
Commodity prices fell 4.7% last week, according to IHS Markit's Material Price Index (MPI), with nine of the ten commodities declining. Oil prices decreased 9% while nonferrous metals dropped 4.1%, and a downturn in car sales led to a 8.5% decrease in rubber. Only lumber prices increased, by 0.3%, after falling more than 30% in the last four weeks.