Steel sheetsDemand for flat steel sheets and other steel products will continue to be stable in the U.S., following the consistent growth of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) billings index.

AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) reached a score of 52 in February. It represented the fifth consecutive monthly increase in the ABI. A score above 50 indicates an expansion, while less than that shows contracted activity.

Economic Indicator

The ABI serves as a good barometer for economic and construction activity in the country. AIA chief economist Kermit Baker said that the February score sustains their positive outlook for architects this year. In terms of new project inquiries, it posted a score of 62.4 in the same month.

This indicates that demand for design services could be higher in March, which bodes well for steel suppliers. AIA considers inquiries to be the most reliable gauge for design billings in the future. By region, the West recorded the strongest growth nationwide in more than 10 years, according to the index.

Construction Spending

When billings increase, construction investments are sure to follow suit. The positive outlook of U.S. architects means that construction companies will continue to see consistent demand for building projects. Overall construction spending in February reached more than $1.27 billion.

Census Bureau data showed that construction spending for the first two months of 2018 increased 4.4% year over year. Commercial construction spending rose 1.5% to $448.6 billion in February, while residential construction projects amounted to $533.4 billion in the same month. Private building projects dwarfed spending on public construction, which reached $982 billion and $291.1 billion, respectively.

The index score for February represented a slower growth compared to the 54.7 reading in January, yet it still showed that demand for design services remains steady. This would benefit construction projects and suppliers of materials particularly steel.