First Look – October 2017


Western Rock Products Celebrates 50 Years of Service

Western Rock Products is celebrating 50 years of construction service in southern and southwestern Utah and surrounding areas.

CRH to Acquire Ash Grove Cement

Ash Grove Cement Co. announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with CRH plc, under which CRH plc will acquire Ash Grove in a transaction valuing Ash Grove at $3.5 billion on an enterprise value basis.

NSSGA Holds Legislative & Policy Forum

The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association held its first Legislative & Policy Forum/Fall Board Meeting in Washington, D.C.


David Zatezalo, a former coal-mining executive from West Virginia, will be President Trump’s nominee for assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. In that role, he will head up the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Zatezalo has a long career of experience in mining, and has seen the industry from both the union and management sides. According to the biography released by the White House, he began mining in 1974 as a union miner. He then rose through the ranks at various companies to work as a foreman, superintendent, vice president of operations and CEO, among other positions.


The estimated U.S. output of construction sand and gravel produced and shipped for consumption in the second quarter of 2017 was 241 Mt, a slight decrease compared with that of the second quarter of 2016. The estimated production for consumption in the first six months of 2017 was 393 Mt, a slight decrease compared with that of the same period of 2016. The five leading states, in descending order of production for consumption, were California, Texas, Michigan, Minnesota and Arizona. Their combined total production for consumption in the second quarter of 2017 was 81.6 Mt and represented 34 percent of the U.S. total.


At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $711.6 billion, new construction starts in August slipped 2 percent from July, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The decline followed July’s 6 percent increase, yet still kept total construction activity 5 percent above the relatively subdued pace reported during the second quarter.

Construction spending during July 2017 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,211.5 billion, 0.6 percent (±1.5 percent) below the revised June estimate of $1,219.2 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The July figure is 1.8 percent (±1.8 percent) above the July 2016 estimate of $1,189.8 billion. Highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $84.8 billion, 0.1 percent (±6.9 percent) above the revised June estimate of $84.7 billion

Sales of newly built, single-family homes in July fell 9.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 571,000 units from an upwardly revised June reading, according to newly released data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. 


  • WTI crude oil futures price: 9/27/2017: $52.14/barrel, up $1.73 from week earlier; up $7.47 from year earlier.
  • Natural gas futures price: 9/27/2017: $2.974/MMBtu, down $0.120 from week earlier; down $0.022 from year earlier.
  • NATURAL GAS inventories: 9/22/2017: 3,466 Bcf, up 58 Bcf from week earlier; down 127 Bcf from year earlier.
  • Crude oil inventories: 9/22/2017: 471.0 million barrels, down 1.8 million barrels from week earlier; down 1.1 million barrels from year earlier.
  • Weekly coal production: 9/23/2017: 14.682 million tons, down 0.821 million tons from week earlier; down 0.732 million tons from year earlier.

    Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

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