February 22, 2012 – “On the heels of consecutive months of strengthening business conditions, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has now reached positive territory three months in a row (see red line in chart above). As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the January ABI score was 50.9, following a mark of 51.0 in December. This score reflects a slight increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 61.2, down just a notch from a reading of 61.5 the previous month (see blue line).”
MP: In another positive sign for the construction industry, the chart below shows the “S&P Homebuilders SPDR” (XHB), an ETF that replicates the homebuilding sub-industry portion of the S&P Total Markets Index (blue line), compared to the S&P500 Index (red line) over the last six months. While the overall stock market (S&P 500) has increased by about 20% over the last six months, the ETF of homebuilders’ stocks has increased by 50%.