SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine--(BUSINESS WIRE)--WEX Inc. (NYSE: WEX), a leading provider of corporate payment solutions, in collaboration with IHS, Inc., the leading global source of critical information and insight, today released results of its WEX Construction Fuel Consumption Index (FCI), which indicated an increase of 3.2% in April versus its level at the same time 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, which includes over 90 percent of the domestic retail fuel 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 April 2013, the WEX Construction FCI reported that fuel consumption by U.S. construction companies increased 3.2% versus April 2012 and decreased by 0.7% 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 seventh consecutive month of year-over-year growth indicated by the seasonally-adjusted index in most of the government’s subsequent construction data releases. Private residential construction increased by 1.4% in March; however, construction spending excluding improvements – a good measure of activity – fell by 1.7% in the same period. Housing starts jumped by 7.0% to an annual rate of 1,036,000 while total housing permit statistics dropped in March by 3.9%. Total construction put-in-place, which is released a month later than the WEX Construction FCI, declined by 1.7% in March. The total employment report was positive with an increase of 165,000 jobs, but the construction industry lost 6,000 jobs in April.
According to the IHS analysis, despite the month-to-month decline in April for the WEX Construction FCI, the housing market has been showing signs of improvement. New home sales increased by 1.5% in March to a 417,000-unit annual rate. Meanwhile, existing home sales rose 0.6% in March and total inventory increased by 1.6%, but remains extremely lean.
Home prices continue to rise as a result of lean inventories, low interest rates, the growing economy, and the decreased share of distressed homes. Higher home prices, in turn, are bringing more builders into the game. The housing market is expected to continue to improve and outperform the rest of the economy over the next few quarters, which is due to the low level of housing inventory and low interest rates. The recovery in housing would be even stronger if it was not for the difficult lending requirements facing would-be buyers.
The WEX Construction FCI for April 2013 is available at http://www.wexinc.com/fuel-consumption-index.
About WEX Inc.
WEX Inc. (NYSE: WEX) is a leading provider of corporate payment solutions. From its roots in fleet card payments beginning in 1983, WEX has expanded the scope of its business into a multi-channel provider of corporate payment solutions representing more than 7.6 million cardholders and offering 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 1,300 associates. For more information about WEX, please visit www.wexinc.com.