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ConstructConnect Resources

Construction Economic News

Stay up to date on the latest construction economic news and get in-depth analysis and insights from Chief Economist Alex Carrick and Senior Economist Michael Guckes.

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Michael Guckes, Senior Economist

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Large U.S. domestic banks at the start of September 2022 had $1.46 trillion* in commercial and industrial loans outstanding; representing an 18% increase from a year ago. This marks the fastest expansion in C&I loans from the large banks category since 2008.

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Much has been made of the efforts by the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank to raise interest rates in order to cool down price inflation without also sending the overall economy into a recession. Achieving this feat will be a considerable task as it requires the right balance of slowing down the various elements of total economic activity, as measured by Gross Domestic Product without sending it into reverse.

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ConstructConnect’s Expansion Index, a monthly measure of the dollar value of planned or contemplated construction projects compared to the same month one year ago, for September 2022 was 10% and 20% higher overall in Canada and the United States, respectively.

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In recent months, the price spread between European natural gas and U.S. natural gas has grown to unprecedented levels in modern history, largely because of Russia’s tactical closure of major gas pipelines to EU nations. The latest data from the International Monetary Fund and U.S. Energy Information Administration put the price difference measured in dollars per Million British Thermal Units at $42.82. As a result, energy costs in the EU are many times greater than in the United States.

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One important indicator of supply chain conditions is the Manufacturing Supplier Deliveries Index produced by the Institute for Supply Management This index is calculated using the responses from a monthly survey sent out to manufacturers across the United States. The survey’s question about supplier deliveries asks whether they are arriving faster, slower, or unchanged compared to the prior month.

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Residential construction firms can partially insulate themselves from a market correction by understanding that different factors—each with their own unique causes and timing—affect the single and multi-family housing market.

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The August data released by the New York Federal Reserve for their Empire State Manufacturers Delivery Time Index pointed to a slight contractionary reading of -0.9. This marks the first time since COVID-19 that the Fed’s supply chain survey has pointed to faster supply chain performance.

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ConstructConnect’s Expansion Index, a monthly measure of the dollar value of construction projects in planning compared to the same month one year ago, registered 10% overall expansion in Canada and 16% for the United States for the month of August 2022.

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The problem of “you cannot sell what you do not have”—or some variation of that saying—became a near existential problem for many manufacturing and construction firms beginning in 2020. Even today this situation remains a problem for some companies and industries. The data on construction material prices, new orders, and unfilled orders during both the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and since 2020 bear this truth out and much more.

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Copper’s June spot price marked a 15-month low for the commodity and its lowest price since rebounding from its early COVID-19-induced nadir. Although the price of the commodity is still historically high, the directional movement of the price of copper has historically served at times as a useful harbinger of future manufacturing and construction materials prices. Twice since 2008 has the price of copper fell just before an overall decline in general construction material prices.

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