Construction Forecasts

News & Analysis

Construction Equipment Shipments Steady at a High Level in May

07/15/2011 by Jim Haughey, RCD Chief Economist

Construction equipment shipments from US factories remained steady in May at about the same level first reached at the beginning of the year. The equipment sales boom has paused. Fleet rebuilding is now largely complete but the delay in the construction recovery has also delayed expansion of rental fleets and direct purchases by contractors. Nonetheless, shipments in the first five months of 2011 are averaging 13% above the average month in 2010. Credit still expanding equipment exports to a rapidly growing world economy for the continuing upward trend.

The construction equipment price index increased 0.3% in May to 2.8% above a year ago. More volatile equipment rental rates are 1.4% higher than a year earlier. The inflation outlook for purchase prices and rental rates is for a gradual pickup to as high as 4% by late 2012. This pickup will be driven jointly by the weak $US, metals inflation above general inflation as always in an expansion period and rising job site demand as construction spending begins to recover in a few months.

US Equipment Market – May 2011

  May 11
Apr 11
Latest Month (May 11)
% Versus
% Versus
3 Months
% Versus
$Millions, seasonally adjusted $US millions
(seasonally adjusted)
US Equipment Manufacturers
US Factory Shipments 3,561 3,527 2.1 1.0 1.0
US Factory Orders 3,660 3,838 13.7 -2.1 -4.6
US Factory Unfilled Orders (month end) 9,251 9,152 51.0 7.6 1.1
US Factory Inventory (month end) 5,182 5,070 26.5 5.3 2.2
US Factory Order Backlog (months) 2.6 2.6 10.4 6.5 0.1
US Equipment Imports 1,118 1,182 81.7 14.5 -5.5
US Equipment Exports 1,906 1,818 55.7 37.0 4.9
US Equipment Consumption 2,723 2,745 39.3 -14.0 -0.8
   (shipments - exports + imports +/- inventory change)  
Construction Equipment Price Index 196.1 195.5 2.8 0.6 0.3
Construction Equipment Rental Price Index 114.0 117.4 1.3 -0.1 -2.9

Data Sources: US Department of Commerce and US Department of Labor
Table: Reed Construction Data


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