SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine--(WEX Inc. (NYSE: WXS), a leading international provider of physical, digital and virtual corporate card payment solutions, in collaboration with IHS, the leading global source of information and analytics, today released results of its WEX Construction Fuel Consumption Index (FCI), which indicated an increase of 3.5% in December versus its level the previous year.)--
The WEX Construction FCI measures national fuel consumption statistics for the construction industry, which provides an accurate and up-to-date indication of construction activity in the United States.
WEX worked with IHS to capture and analyze transaction data from its closed loop network of more than 180,000 fuel and vehicle maintenance locations, including over 90 percent of the domestic retail fuel locations and 45,000 vehicle maintenance locations. With this data, the WEX Construction FCI can be used to identify emerging trends within the construction industry and the national economy.
The indicators were tested at monthly, quarterly and annual frequencies, with the greatest insights produced using the year-over-year percent change of the monthly data. For December 2012, the WEX Construction FCI reported that fuel consumption by U.S. construction companies increased 3.5% versus December 2011 and increased 0.04% versus the previous month.
The WEX Construction FCI, which is available monthly in advance of the U.S. Census Bureau figures on construction spending, is available at http://www.wexinc.com/fuel-consumption-index.
Last month’s WEX Construction FCI reflected the stalled growth indicated by the seasonally-adjusted index in most of the government’s subsequent construction data releases. Construction spending excluding improvements – a good measure of activity – decreased by 0.2% in November and private residential construction rose by 1.2%; however, it was the weakest gain in eight months. November housing permit statistics were mixed, with total permits increasing by 3.6%. Also in November, housing starts fell by 3.0% to an annual rate of 861,000. The weak growth for the WEX Construction FCI in December mirrored the small increase in job growth with a gain of 30,000 jobs in the construction sector in the same month, after losing 10,000 in November. Total construction put-in-place, which is released a month later than the Fuel Consumption Index, declined by 0.3% in November.
According to the IHS analysis, despite the month-to-month stalled growth in December for the WEX Fuel Consumption Index, the U.S. housing market has shown signs of growth with new home sales rising 4.4% in November to an annual rate of 377,000 units. Although new home sales are slowly trending upwards, they are not expected to reach normal levels above 800,000, until 2015.
Existing home sales increased by 5.9% in November, while inventories fell to 2.03 million units, which is the lowest since December 2001. However, this is good news since low inventories will spur builders to put up new homes or else lose sales in addition to facing higher prices. All of the well-known home price indicators confirm that home prices are on the rise nationally in at least three of the four regions. Home prices in the Northeast continue to fall because many housing markets in this region remain depressed.
The WEX Construction FCI for December 2012 is available at http://www.wexinc.com/fuel-consumption-index
About WEX Inc.
WEX Inc. (NYSE: WXS) is a leading international provider of physical, digital and virtual corporate card payment solutions. From its roots as a pioneer in fleet card payments in 1983, WEX now provides its more than 350,000 customers ― representing more than 6.9 million cardholders ― with exceptional payment security and control across a wide spectrum of business sectors. The Company’s operations include WEX Bank, Fleet One, Pacific Pride, rapid! PayCard, Wright Express Prepaid Cards Australia, Wright Express Fuel Cards Australia, Wright Express New Zealand and CorporatePay Limited, England, as well as a majority equity position in UNIK S.A., Brazil. WEX and its subsidiaries employ more than 1,200 associates. For more information about WEX, please visit WEXInc.com.