ATLANTA A key indicator
for nonresidential construction activity was positive for the
eighth month in a row in March, signaling a boom for the steel
market, even as the rate of growth eased compared with previous
The American Institute of
Architects (AIA) Architectural Billings Index (ABI) was
put at 51.9 last month, down from 54.9 in February but still
indicating overall growth in construction activity. The ABI
reflects an approximate nine- to 12-month lag between
architecture billings and construction spending and therefore
is viewed as a leading indicator for construction activity and,
hence, demand for steel and other construction materials.
Steel wire and wire rod
producers at the Wire Association Internationals
Interwire convention in Atlanta told AMM they had seen
improvements in construction markets, but things hadnt
picked up quite as much as they had expected in March.
"We have seen that orders for
all construction have been up," said a mill source at the
convention, citing particular strength in demand for
pre-stressed concrete strand. He added, however, that he
guessed some of the increase in business might be due to the
fact that his customers had simply run out of inventory.
"I wouldnt call it
substantial; Id call it noticeable," a second
mill source said of the apparent construction pickup.
"Business conditions in the
construction industry have generally been improving over the
last several months," AIA chief economist Kermit Baker said in
a statement. "(But) the recovery has been uneven across the
major construction sectors so its not a big surprise that
there was some easing in the pace of growth in March compared
to previous months."