New construction starts in February advanced 2 percent from January, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, although total construction for the first two months of the year dropped compared with 2007.
“The gain for total construction reflected a strong performance by nonresidential building, which for the second month in a row was boosted by groundbreaking for several very large projects,” MHC said. “At the same time, nonbuilding construction — public works and electric utilities — fell back from January’s elevated pace, and residential building dropped further as its lengthy correction continues. For the first two months of 2008, total construction on an unadjusted basis was down 18 percent from the same period a year ago. If residential building is excluded, the value of new construction starts during the first two months of 2008 increased a slight 1 percent compared to last year.
At the same time, according to econoplay.com, steel producers reported unprecedented price spirals. “The pricing gallop has been dizzying, soaring in excess of 50 percent for several benchmark products since hitting a cyclical trough last summer, topping old records in recent weeks,” the website reported.