According to the latest forecast from the Portland Cement Association (PCA), there will be an 8.1 percent growth in cement consumption in 2013, significantly higher than the tepid growth projected in its fall 2012 report. The upward revisions reflect adjustments made in light of the recent fiscal cliff accord, recognition of stronger economic momentum, and markedly more optimistic assessments regarding residential construction activity. The January report marked 2012 U.S. cement shipment totals at 78.5 million metric tons, an 8.9 percent gain over 2011 consumption.

“Growth in 2013 cement consumption will be largely driven by gains in residential construction,” says PCA Chief Economist Ed Sullivan. “Housing starts should reach nearly 950,000 units, with single family construction near 700,000 starts. We see starts hitting the one million mark in 2014 or 2015.”

Sullivan did caution, however, that the first quarter of 2013 would actually show declines compared to the same period in 2012. “It is important to point out that this potential decline in first quarter growth rates does not signal a weakening in market fundamentals, but rather a hangover from favorable 2012 weather conditions. Stronger gains in cement consumption growth are expected during the second quarter.”

Accelerated cement consumption predicted during the second half of 2013 should carry into the following year, where PCA projects an 8.3 percent shipment increase over this year’s total. Sullivan has also upwardly revised projections for 2015–2017 cement and concrete demand, where annual growth rates could reach 9.2 percent.

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