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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Starts and Permits Up on Strong Multifamily Lift

Analysts were expecting a boost in November's residential construction data, but not this much of a boost.

The Commerce Department's residential construction report released Tuesday morning showed housing starts at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685,000 -- that's 9.3% higher than the revised October estimate of 627,000 (revised from a previously released figure of 628,000). It's also the highest level of starts since April 2010.

Compared with last year's near-record low, total housing starts were up 24.3%.

Single-family housing starts were up a modest 2.3%, coming in at a pace of 447,000, according to the government figures.

Building permits also showed strong improvement in November. Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in November were at a rate of 681,000. This is up 5.7% from October and up 20.7% from the same month a year ago.

ProSales Readers Pick Economics, ProBuild Shakeups as 2011's Top Stories

The continued homebuilding slump edged out the leadership and organizational shakeups at ProBuild as the most significant story in construction supply this year, a survey of ProSales readers released today found. Meanwhile, president Barack Obama and Congress were the runaway winners as the most significant individuals in LBM in 2011.

Fore more, visit:  http://www.prosalesmagazine.com/industry-news.asp?sectionID=420&articleID=1784378&CID=PSBU:122111:FULL

National Gypsum Introduces 5/8" High Strength Fire-Shield

CHARLOTTE (December 20, 2011) – National Gypsum has announced the release of its new Gold Bond® brand High Strength Fire-Shield® LITE Gypsum Board. High Strength Fire-Shield LITE is a specialty gypsum board formulated to be up to 15 percent lighter than standard 5/8" Type X gypsum board.

“High Strength Fire-Shield LITE is a natural extension to the National Gypsum High Strength LITE family,” said Steve Cusa, product manager, gypsum systems for National Gypsum. “High Strength Fire-Shield LITE is lighter in weight and easier to handle, offering an alternative to contractors who value products with less weight in commercial construction and fire-rated designs.”

The specially formulated lightweight properties of High Strength Fire-Shield LITE offer the potential to both improve productivity and reduce transportation costs. In addition to the lower weight, the product offers better working properties including an improved score and snap, reduced dust and an improved strength-to-weight ratio. In addition, its face paper features GridMarX® guide marks to allow installers to quickly identify fastener lines for stud and joist framing as well as nail and screw patterns.

High Strength Fire-Shield LITE is the first lightweight Type X product to achieve GREENGUARD Children & SchoolsSM Certification.

“National Gypsum is proud to offer the broadest line of gypsum and related products to have achieved the industry’s most stringent indoor air quality standards,” said Cusa. “The GREENGUARD Children & Schools Certification requires rigorous sample testing, manufacturing process review and ongoing quarterly testing.”

High Strength Fire-Shield LITE features a fire-resistant Type X core and is UL Classified and approved for inclusion in specific UL fire-rated designs. For a complete list of UL fire-rated designs, visit ul.com.

High Strength Fire-Shield LITE will be available in early 2012 and will carry an up-charge over standard 5/8” Type X gypsum board. For more information, go to highstrengthlite.info or call 1-800-NATIONAL for technical information.

Wells Fargo's Weekly Economic & Financial Commentary- December 23, 2011

- GDP growth for the third quarter was revised downward to 1.8 percent from 2.0 percent, but based on this week’s data we have raised our outlook for 2011 growth to 3.7 percent from 3.5 percent.

- Personal income rose 0.1 percent in November, while real personal income increased 0.2 percent, indicating that consumer prices continue to ease.

- New home construction grew 9.3 percent in November, but we do not expect this pace to continue as unusually warm weather likely contributed to the gain.

- New home sales grew 4.0 percent in November, with distressed transactions accounting for 29 percent of sales.

- Durable goods orders rose 3.8 percent in November, driven by a 73.3 percent spike in civilian aircraft orders.

. Excluding the volatile transportation component, orders rose a more modest 0.3 percent.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wells Fargo's Weekly Economic & Financial Commentary- December 16, 2011

- Retail sales posted a disappointing increase of 0.2 percent in November, but categories typically associated with the holiday season saw solid gains.

. We believe the holiday sales projections will remain on track, as anecdotal reports suggest most consumers have yet to complete their holiday wish list.

- Industrial production delivered an unexpected decline in November with the pullback concentrated in the manufacturing sector.

. Regional surveys for December suggest further positive momentum in the factory sector.

- Regarding inflation, we continue to expect prices to moderate over the next year due to restrained domestic demand and slowing global growth.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wells Fargo's Weekly Economic & Financial Commentary- December 9, 2011

- First time claims for unemployment fell to 381,000 in the first week of December after rising to 404,000 during the holiday-shortened week of November 25.

. The ISM manufacturing survey’s employment component slipped to 51.8 in November from 53.5 during the prior month, while the employment component of the service sector ISM fell to 48.9 in November from 53.3.

- Orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft turned negative in October, falling 0.8 percent, while shipments of these goods declined for the second month in a row.

- We forecast a 5.2 percent increase in holiday sales year-over-year, but data suggests consumers cut back on spending following Black Friday, as Redbook same-store sales fell 2.6 percent month-over-month through the week of December 3.

. While our forecast calls for decent holiday sales, we suspect consumer spending growth will slow to less than 1.5 percent in the first quarter.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wells Fargo's Weekly Economic & Financial Commentary- December 2, 2011


-     The economy added 120,000 jobs in November due to gains in the retail, temporary staffing, and leisure and hospitality sectors.

.     The unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent, although much of the decline was the result of a drop in the labor force participation rate and a sizable reduction in the number of employed individuals.

-     New home sales rose 1.3 percent in October, but net revisions to the past three months subtracted 15,000 units.

.     The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index continued to decline in September, falling 3.9 percent year-over-year.

-     The ISM Manufacturing survey rose to 52.7 in November, the highest reading since June, as both the production and new orders components improved.

-     Consumer confidence rebounded 15.1 points to 56.0 in November, signaling a strong start to the holiday shopping season.

Spending on building energy efficiency to boom in next 5 years

Pike Research predicts the building energy efficiency market will soar more than 50 percent between now and 2017 to $103.5 billion. Among the leading factors: an active stable of energy service companies and aggressive efficiency policies being enacted around the world.

Pending Home Sales deliver positive data


The Pending Home Sales index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) rose in October on both a month-to-month and year-over-year basis.

The forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, jumpe 10.4% to an index of 93.3 in October, compared to a reading of 84.5 in September. The latest figure is up 9.2% compared to October 2010.

"Home sales have been plodding along at a sub-par level while interest rates are hovering at record lows and there is a pent-up demand from buyers who normally would have entered the market in recent years," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "We hope this is indicates more buyers are taking advantage of the excellent affordability conditions."

Earlier this week, Consumer Confidence showed a similar, double-digit surge --  increasing to 56.0 in November, compared to 40.9 in October.

AIA reports: Hotels, retail to lead U.S. construction recovery

NEW YORK, Jan 26 (Reuters) - U.S. nonresidential construction activity will decline this year but recover in 2012, led by hotel and retail sectors, according to a twice-yearly forecast by an architects' trade group.
Overall nonresidential construction spending is expected to fall by 2% this year before rising by 5% in 2012, adjusted for inflation, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) said on Wednesday.

The projected decline marks a deteriorating outlook compared to the prior survey in July 2010, when a 2011 recovery was expected. 

That recovery has been pushed back by historically low lending rates for real estate projects, lingering effects of overbuilding and an unfavorable bond market that has limited municipalities' access to funding, the AIA said.

Potential higher borrowing costs and rising energy prices are areas of concern for the architecture and construction industry, said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker.

Construction of industrial space is seen falling 11.8% this year, with smaller declines projected for office buildings, hotels and retail space. Spending is seen lower both this year and next on public safety infrastructure, but is expected to be up slightly in areas like healthcare, religious and recreational facilities.
The consensus forecast counts predictions from McGraw Hill Construction, IHS-Global Insight, Moody's economy.com, and others.

The AIA's monthly billings index, a leading indicator of activity because it measures work architects have performed, last month reached its best level since November 2007 and has pointed to increasing demand for design services for two consecutive months.

The billings index is considered an indicator of construction activity nine to 12 months in the future, and is tracked by companies that generate sales from the sector.