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Construction contraction rate slips.

Contracting for new construction receded one percent in April, it was reported by the F.W. Dodge Division of McGraw-Hill. The decline left the seasonally adjusted Dodge Index at 94(1987=100), down from March's 95, as the recovery of the construction industry remained stalled for another month.

April's data showed modest improvement in housing from the low volume reported in March, due primarily to that month's harsh winter weather. However, the gain was offset by reduced totals for the industry's other two sectors -- non-residential building and non-building construction (public works and utilities).

Residential building posted a 3 percent gain in April, led by a 20 percent surge in the Northeast as it rebounded from the effects of the Blizzard of '93. The gain in the national volume was a welcome development, but it left the rate of residential construction still 10 percent below the level reported at the end of 1992.

Non-residential building declined 3 percent in April, the result of sharply lower totals for warehouse, manufacturing, and healthcare construction. The depressed office market provided no support, staying relatively unchanged from its dismal level of the past year. However, store construction maintained the strength shown in recent months, standing apart from the weakened status of the other commercial categories. Also on the plus side in April was a rebound for educational construction.

Non-building construction retreated 6 percent from its March pace, as the volatile utility sector weakened substantially. A partial offset came from moderate improvement for highway and bridge construction, which benefitted from April's better weather conditions.

Through the first four months of 1993, total construaion on an unadjusted basis was down from last year's pace by 3 percent. The Northeast showed the largest decline over this period with a 9 percent shortfall, followed by 8 percent declines in the North Central and West. In contrast, the southern part of the nation has witnessed a stronger construction market this year, with the South Atlantic and South Central regions showing respective gains of 7 and 9 percent.
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Title Annotation:new construction contracts decrease, according to report by F.W. Dodge Division of McGraw-Hill Information Services Co.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 9, 1993
Words:337
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