The Dodge Momentum Index rose 7.1% in February to 149.0 (2000=100) from the revised January reading of 139.1. The momentum index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. The institutional component of the momentum index jumped 26.3% during the month, while the commercial component was essentially flat.
February’s momentum index marked the highest levels in nearly three years as a result of a surge in large projects that entered planning. It remains to be seen if this level of activity, especially in the institutional sector, is sustainable given the tenuous economic recovery and rising material prices. Institutional planning projects in February were concentrated in large hospitals and labs, while commercial planning projects primarily included data centers, warehouses and office projects. Compared to a year ago, the overall momentum index was up 9.2%; the commercial component was 15.2% higher, while the institutional component was down 3.3%
Over the course of the month, 14 projects entered planning — each with a value of $100 million or more. The leading institutional projects were the $230-million University of Iowa Hospital in North Liberty, Iowa and the $190-million Ultra Labs Life Sciences building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The leading commercial projects were two data centers in Catlett, Virginia each with a value of $135 million.