August 22, 2014 – Good big-picture news on the production front. According to USGS, the nonmetallic mineral products leading index increased 1.2 percent to 241.6 in July from a revised 238.8 in June, and its six-month smoothed growth rate increased to 7.4 percent from a revised 5.9 percent in June. The six-month smoothed growth rate is a compound annual rate that measures the near-term trend. A growth rate above +1.0 percent is usually a signal of future growth in industry activity, while a growth rate below -1.0 percent points to a decrease in activity. Residential construction increased in July after declining two consecutive months. Although the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that private nonresidential construction spending decreased in June, spending is more than 11 percent higher than in 2013. This bodes well for the nonmetallic mineral products industry because nonresidential construction has generally accounted for two-thirds of construction spending since the start of the U.S. economic recovery. The high nonmetallic mineral products leading index growth rate is an indication that the recovery in the nonmetallic mineral products industry is likely to continue in the near term.