Architects remain optimistic in ABI report. Led by the commercial sector, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has remained in positive territory four months in a row. Published monthly by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Washington, D.C., the ABI is a leading economic indicator of construction activity and reflects the approximate nine- to twelve-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The AIA reported the February ABI score was 51 points, following a mark of 50.9 points in January. This score reflects a slight increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 points indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 63.4 points, up from 61.2 points the previous month and its highest reading since July 2007.
“This is more good news for the design and construction industry that continues to see improving business conditions,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “The factors preventing a more accelerated recovery are persistent caution from clients to move ahead with new projects, and a continued difficulty in accessing financing for projects that developers have decided to pursue.”
Conference Board’s Leading Indicators look good. The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.7 percent in February to 95.5 points, following a 0.2 percent increase in January and a 0.5 percent increase in December. Said Ataman Ozyildirim, an economist at The Conference Board, “Continued broad-based gains in the LEI for the United States confirm a more positive outlook for general economic activity in the first half of 2012, although still subdued consumer expectations and the purchasing managers’ index for new orders held the LEI back in February.”
Added Ken Goldstein, another economist at The Conference Board, “Recent data reflect an economy that improved this winter. To be sure, an unseasonably mild winter has contributed to many of the recent positive economic reports. But the consistent signal for the leading series suggests that progress on jobs, output, and incomes may continue through the summer months, if not beyond.”