Dodge Momentum Index Stumbles in September

The Dodge Momentum Index fell 4.3 percent in September to 129.0 from its revised August reading of 134.8 (2000=100). The Momentum Index 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 decline in September was the result of a 5.3 percent drop in institutional planning and a 3.6 percent decrease in commercial planning, retreating from the strong performance in August which benefitted from an influx of large projects ($100 million +) into planning. September’s decline follows five consecutive months of gains, and resumes for now the saw-tooth pattern that’s often been present in the data since 2014.

Even with the recent volatility on a month-to-month basis, the index continues to trend higher, signaling that developers have moved plans forward despite economic and political uncertainty. With the September release the Momentum Index is 5.1 percent higher than one year ago. The institutional component is 5.4 percent above its September 2015 reading, while the commercial component is up 4.9 percent.

In September, five projects entered planning each with a value exceeding $100 million. For the commercial building sector, the leading projects were a $200 million office tower in Chicago and a $150 million JW Marriott Hotel in Irvine, Calif. The leading institutional projects were a $150 million hospital in Evanston, Wyo., and a $105 million hospital in Salt Lake City.