Dodge Index inches upward

News McGraw-Hill Construction July 12, 2004
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At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $556

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $556.1 billion, new construction starts in May were up 1% compared to the previous month, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Cos. Nonresidential building registered its strongest performance so far in 2004, outweighing a modest retreat for housing and a more substantial decline for nonbuilding construction.


May's data lifted the Dodge Index to 167, up from the revised 166 for April. During the first two months of 2004, the Dodge Index had averaged 160, down from the 165 mean for the second half of 2003. The subsequent three months have seen the Dodge Index move back slightly above the 165 mark.


"The construction industry has picked up the pace in recent months," said Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction.


Nonbuilding construction in May dropped 9% to $78.6 billion. Much of the nonbuilding retreat was the result of an 88% plunge for electric utilities. Highways and bridges increased 12% after a weak April. May's level was the strongest so far in 2004, but was still 12% below the average pace of highway and bridge projects during 2003.


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