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Construction Outlook: Orders To Take A Nosedive

Despite low interest rates, low unemployment, and healthy consumer confidence, U.S. construction executives predict plummeting order books through the end of February, says a recent survey. "It is possible this survey reflects concerns that the credit crunch that overtook the construction industry this fall would freeze new projects," says Joseph Duncan, chief economic adviser to The Dun & Bradstreet Corp., which conducted the November 1998 three-month expectation index survey, released at year's end. "We anticipate expectation levels to recover in the coming months, given the recent stabilization of the bond market that finances a significant portion of the construction sector." Survey results:

  • Order Books Index compared with October: down 18 points, to zero. Compared with the year-ago period: down 25 points.
  • Employment Index, down 4 points to 7. From year-ago: down 19 points.
  • Prices Index, up 5 points to 20. From year-ago: up 1 point.
The indexes are calculated by subtracting the percentage of respondents expecting a decrease from the percentage expecting increase.
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