At the beginning of the year, the American Architecture Billings Index (ABI) was off to a slow start as it dipped temporarily into the red. In December 2016, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported a score of 55.6, but the March 2017 score was 54.3, up from a score of 50.7 in February 2017. This expanded score reflects a notable increase in design services.

AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, said the first quarter started out on uneasy footing, but fortunately ended on an upswing entering the traditionally busy spring season in the northern hemisphere.

“All sectors showed growth except for the commercial/industrial market, which for the first time in over a year displayed a decrease in design services,” said Kermit.

The new projects inquiry index was 59.8, down from a reading of 61.5 the previous month, while the new design contracts index dipped from 54.7 to 52.3.

PwC reported that South Africa’s construction industry faced a challenging year in 2016 with ongoing pressure on margins, lower revenue and lower order books. For the nine companies analysed, market capitalisation decreased by 3% to R25bn as at 30 June 2016 (R25.9bn as at 30 June 2015). After 30 June, there was a market capitalisation recovery of 11%.

As 2016 drew to an end, however, there was some improvement in companies’ performances, with signs of an increase in profitability and market performance. A promising development for the industry is the South African Government’s infrastructure plan, which aims to address the country’s infrastructure needs over the next few years.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to www.aia.org for the information contained in this article.