Construction fuel consumption index up 3.5 percent in December

Updated Jan 31, 2013

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WEX and IHS have released results of the WEX Construction Fuel Consumption Index (FCI), which indicated an increase of 3.5 percent in December over December 2011.

The WEX Construction FCI measures national fuel consumption statistics for the construction industry to provide an up-to-date indication of construction activity in the United States.

For December 2012, the WEX Construction FCI reported that fuel consumption by United States construction companies increased 3.5 percent over December 2011 and increased 0.04 percent versus the previous month.

Last month’s WEX Construction FCI was consistent with the stalled growth indicated by most of the government’s subsequent construction data releases. Construction spending excluding improvements decreased by 0.2 percent in November, and private residential construction showed growth of 1.2 percent—the weakest gain in eight months.

Total housing permits in November increased by 3.6 percent. Housing starts decreased by 3.0 percent in November to an annual rate of 861,000.

In December, weak growth coincided with a gain of 30,000 jobs construction jobs following November’s 10,000 job losses. Total construction put-in-place decreased by 0.3 percent in November.

Despite month-to-month stalled growth in December, the United States housing market is improving, with new home sales in November rising 4.4 percent to a 377,000-unit annual rate. However, new home sales are not expected to reach normal levels above 800,000 until 2015.

Existing home sales increased by 5.9 percent in November, while inventories decreased to 2.03 million units—the lowest since December 2001. The low inventories are expected to spur
builders to put up new homes to avoid losing sales and facing higher prices.

Home prices are on the rise nationally in at least three of the four regions, while home prices in the Northeast continue to fall because many housing markets in this region remain depressed.