Electrical Marketing’s Leading Indicators

Sept. 21, 2012
A mixed bag: PMI and Dodge Momentum index down, Conference Board indicators and AIA billings up

PMI down again in August. The Purchasing Managers Index dipped 0.2 percentage points in August, landing at 49.8 points. This reading indicates that the manufacturing sector contracted for the third consecutive month and is still in negative territory. Bradley Holcomb, chair of the Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, said a press release announcing the August data that it's also the lowest reading for the PMI since July 2009.

The Dodge Momentum Index retreated 1.4% in August. McGraw-Hill Construction said its new Dodge Momentum Index slippped in August from July, indicating ofter prosepects for nonresidential construction. The Momentum Index 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 August Momentum Index came in at 96.8 (2000=100), down from July's revised 98.1. Despite the month's pullback, the index remains 21.4% ahead of its level a year earlier.

Conference Board's leading indicators nudge up in July. The Conference Board's U.S. Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.4 percent in July to 95.8 points (2004 = 100), following a 0.4 percent decline in June, and a 0.3 percent increase in May. Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board, says the indicators point to slow growth through the end of 2012.

Architecture Billings Index increases three points in August. On the heels of a nearly three-point increase, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) climbed into positive terrain for the first time in five months. Published by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Washington, D.C., the ABI is a leading economic indicator of construction activity that reflects the approximate nine-to-twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. AIA reported the August ABI score was 50.2 points, up from the mark of 48.7 points in July. This score reflects an increase in demand for design services. The new projects inquiry index was 57.2 points, up from mark of 56.3 points the previous month. “Until the economy is on firmer ground, there aren't likely to be strong increases in demand for design services,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker. “In the meantime, we can expect to see design activity alternate between modest growth and modest decline.”