The Dodge Momentum Index moved 6.1 percent higher in March, rising to 155.0 (2000 = 100) from the February reading of 146.0, Dodge Data & Analytics reported on Friday. The index is a monthly measure of the first report for nonresidential building projects in planning, a metric that leads construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year.
March’s gain was the result of a 9.6 percent increase in the commercial component of the index, more than erasing the 5.1 percent decline the component saw the previous month. The gain in the institutional sector was considerably less, moving 1.6 percent higher, following an 8.1 percent gain in February.
During the first nine months of 2017, the overall index made little progress. Then planning activity shot up in the fourth quarter, with that momentum continuing into the first three months of 2018. In the latest quarter, the Momentum Index gained 5.1 percent. That’s possibly a sign that planners are reacting positively to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed at the end of December, according to Dodge.
In March, six projects each with a value of $100 million or more entered the planning phase. In the commercial sector, a $179 million government office in Ashburn, Va., and a $155 million warehouse in Riverside, Calif., led the pack. The leading institutional projects were a $210 million outpatient medical center in Torrance, Calif., and a $105 million new federal courthouse in Columbia, SC.