US: The Portland Cement Association (PCA) has downgraded its forecast for cement consumption in 2017 and 2018 due to bad weather and lower anticipated budgets for the public construction sector. The association now expects cement consumption to rise by 2.6% in 2017 and 2.8% in 2018. It previously anticipated a 3.5% growth rate for both years in a statement made in May 2017.
“Once infrastructure and tax reform initiatives take hold and affect economic and construction activity, then we can expect growth in cement consumption to accelerate to higher levels,” said Ed Sullivan, PCA senior vice president and chief economist.
Sullivan noted the updated forecast assumes tax reform and a US$250bn national infrastructure program spearheaded by the Trump Administration and the House of Congress. However these initiatives are unlikely to begin until mid-2019. He added that the dual fiscal stimuli would accelerate GDP growth, construction spending and cement consumption. Lowering unemployment rates are also expected to add to inflationary pressures alongside these fiscal programs.
The PCA said that rising inflation would necessitate a stronger Federal Reserve reaction and is expected to result in a rapid and perhaps larger-than-expected increase in interest rates. This, in turn, could cause a slowdown in the construction industry leading to a potential decline in activity from the end of 2021.