PCA optimistic on North American outlook
Welcoming over 750 delegates to the 2013 IEEE/PCA 55th Cement Industry Technical Conference at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida, USA, event chairman Ted Richardson gave an overview of this year’s conference offerings: some 45 presentations highlighting the latest technology advances, including the MIT’s Concrete Sustainability Research, as well as opportunities to network and a 165-stand exhibition.
Dave Zwicke, the PCA’s Senior Economist, gave the audience an overview of the North American cement market. The recent resolution of the fiscal cliff prompted the PCA to review its economic and construction forecasts. While economic growth remained weak at 1.7 per cent in the second half of 2012, the construction market expanded and provided a nine per cent boost to cement demand. Mr Zwicke also touched briefly on developments elsewhere in the world as well as the supply of energy and its impact on the cement industry.
Looking ahead, the PCA expects these construction gains to continue in the second half of 2013 and 2014. Although the PCA recognises 1H13 economic conditions will suffer by the fiscal cliff hangover, it expects the second half of the year to carry a much more positive trend with stronger home sales and housing starts. While a US$2.2bn cut in public construction will affect industry activity, non-residential construction is forecast to expand an estimated 10 per cent in 2013 and the residential market could see 1m housing starts. The PCA's analysis also highlighted the importance of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), which is expected to increase funding levels from a current US$122m to US$750m in 2014 and US$1bn the year after, providing a welcome boost to the cement industry.