U.S. architecture billings index up in July -AIA

* AIA July billings index up 1.9 pts to 47.9

* Project inquiries index drops 4.6 pts to 53.1

* Conditions remain volatile, trade group says

NEW YORK, Aug 18 (BestGrowthStock) – A closely watched leading
indicator of U.S. nonresidential construction spending rose in
July but remained at a level that indicates falling demand for
the 30th consecutive month, an architects’ trade group said on
Wednesday.

The Architecture Billings Index was up 1.9 points last
month to 47.9, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) said.
A forward-looking index of project inquiries fell 4.6 points to
53.1.

Readings above 50 indicate expansion, while those below 50
point to declining demand. Inquiries have stayed above 50 in
recent months as builders seek multiple bids for design
projects.

Business conditions remain volatile amid tight credit for
construction. A weak economy, depressed real estate values and
high unemployment have meant less need to put up structures
like stores and office buildings.

“We continue to receive a mixed bag of feedback on the
condition of the design market, from improving to flat to being
paralyzed by uncertainty,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit
Baker.

None of the four geographic regions tracked by the group
was above 50, and only the commercial/industrial sector was
above that mark in July.

The AIA’s billings index is an indicator of construction
spending nine to 12 months in the future, so current readings
suggest a recovery will not take root until sometime in 2011.

The index is cited by companies that sell into the sector
as a reliable gauge of demand. The AIA has forecast a 20
percent drop in spending on nonresidential construction this
year, followed by a modest rebound in 2011.

Most diversified industrial companies derive at least some
revenue from the nonresidential sector, selling machinery used
in construction or the components of a building: elevators,
electrical and lighting systems, heating and cooling and
security networks, for example.

A partial list includes Honeywell International Inc
(HON.N: ), Tyco International Ltd (TYC.N: ), Ingersoll-Rand Plc
(IR.N: ), Johnson Controls Inc (JCI.N: ), Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N: ),
Deere & Co (DE.N: ), Terex Corp (TEX.N: ), Emerson Electric Co
(EMR.N: ), Parker Hannifin Corp (PH.N: ), Oshkosh Corp (OSK.N: ), and
Eaton Corp (ETN.N: ).
(Reporting by Nick Zieminski, editing by Matthew Lewis)

U.S. architecture billings index up in July -AIA