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FIRST LOOK - APRIL 2020


TOP NEWS

MDU Resources Recognized for Gender Diversity

MDU Resources Group Inc. has again been named a Winning “W” Company by 2020 Women on Boards for having at least 20% of its corporate board comprised of women. MDU Resources’ board is made up of 10 directors. Three women, Karen B. Fagg, Patricia L. Moss and Chenxi Wang, served on the board in 2019.

Aggregates Producers Respond to Coronavirus Pandemic

Aggregates producers are responding to the escalating coronavirus pandemic with messages of support to their employees and customers. Companies such as Rogers Group, LafargeHolcim, Cemex and Graniterock expressed that health and safety is a top priority, vowing to continue to meet the needs of the construction industry and the economy.

ConExpo-Con/Agg a Huge Success Despite Challenges

Multiple construction and construction-materials industry segments, including the aggregates industry, converged on the Las Vegas Convention Center and Festival Grounds for ConExpo-Con/Agg 2020 to unveil new technologies and products, share knowledge, network with industry peers and buy equipment.


MSHA WATCH

Of the nation’s 13,000 mining operations, none met the screening criteria for a Pattern of Violations (POV), one of the toughest enforcement tools used by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). The announcement follows MSHA’s most recent screening, covering the period from Feb. 1, 2019, to Jan. 31, 2020. This was the sixth consecutive screening that resulted in no POV notices. The last screening covered the period from Sept. 1, 2018, to Aug. 31, 2019. Under MSHA regulations, MSHA conducts POV screenings “at least once each year.”


USGS STATS

The estimated annual output of construction aggregates produced for consumption in 2019 was 2.47 billion metric tons (Gt), an increase of 5% compared with that of 2018, according to Jason Willett, commodity specialist for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The estimated total annual production for consumption of construction aggregates in 2019 increased, compared with that in 2018, in 33 of the 50 states for which estimates were made.


ECONOMIC INDICATORS

  • The U.S. Census Bureau announced that construction spending during January 2020 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,369.2 billion, 1.8% (±0.8%) above the revised December estimate of $1,345.5 billion. The January figure is 6.8% (±1.3%) above the January 2019 estimate of $1,282.5 billion.
  • Total construction starts lost 1% from January to February dropping to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $767.5 billion. Large projects in the office and healthcare sectors provided a boost for overall nonresidential building, while residential and nonbuilding construction starts moved lower. Highways and bridges were down 17%.
  • According to William May, senior economist, IHS Markit, as COVID-19 spreads worldwide, markets have begun pricing in a global decline in economic activity on the scale of that witnessed in China during the past two months. Moreover, in looking forward past the worst of the crisis, markets also appear to be expecting a recovery that will have a more protracted “U” not “V” shaped profile. Commodity prices have fallen roughly 14% since mid-January and by nearly 20% from their 2019 peak last July; but they are still some 23% above their early 2016 low, suggesting there is potential for a substantial downside remaining.

ENERGY

  • WTI Crude Oil Futures Price: 3/24/2020: $24.01/barrel, down $2.94 from week earlier; down $34.81 from year earlier.
  • Natural Gas Futures Price: 3/24/2020: $1.653/MMBtu, down $0.076 from week earlier; down $1.102 from year earlier.
  • Retail Gasoline Price: 3/23/2020: $2.120/gal., down $0.128 from week earlier, down $0.503 from year earlier.
  • Retail Diesel Price: 3/23/2020: $2.659/gal., down $0.074 from week earlier; down $0.421 from year earlier.
  • Electricity: 1/20/2020: Average price to industrial customers 6.33 cents/kilowatt hour; down from 6.58 cents/kilowatt hour from year earlier.

    Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration