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First Look - December 2015

Transportation Bill Imminent

At press time, a House transportation-funding measure was being reconciled with the Senate version of the bill via a conference committee consisting of House and Senate members and chaired by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.).

Vulcan Has Positive Third Quarter

Vulcan Materials Co. announced results for the third quarter ending Sept. 30, 2015. The company’s third- quarter results reflect “continued strong revenue growth and margin expansion,” according to the company.

Martin Marietta Grows in Third Quarter

Martin Marietta Materials stated, “Our record third-quarter results reflect the company’s considerable earnings power resulting from the continued successful execution of our strategic plan.”


The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has sent out a confined spaces alert. “Unsafe work in confined spaces has led to miner deaths and injuries in the metal and nonmetal mining industry,” the alert read. “Recent tragic incidents include: a fatality while cleaning the inside of a tanker railcar and a miner being severely burned during maintenance of a baghouse screw hopper. To address these regrettable occurrences, special emphasis should be placed on enforcing MSHA standards related to entering bins, hoppers, silos, tanks and surge piles. A best practice is to conduct a hazard assessment and implement a permitting system as part of a safe entry standard operating procedure (SOP).”


According to preliminary numbers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) – obtained in advance by Rock Products – an estimated 697 million metric tons (Mt) of total construction aggregates was produced and shipped for consumption in the United States in the third quarter of 2015, an increase of 5 percent compared with that of the third quarter of 2014. The estimated production for consumption in the first nine months of 2015 was 1.69 billion metric tons, an increase of 5 percent compared with that of the same period of 2014.

  • New construction starts in October advanced 13 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $591.1 billion, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The increase follows the lackluster performance for construction starts during August and September, when activity fell to the lowest levels reported so far in 2015. Highway and bridge construction in October receded 5 percent.
  • The nonmetallic mineral products industry leading index increased 1.3 percent to 247.5 in October from a revised 244.3 in September, and its six-month smoothed growth rate increased to 4.3 percent from an upwardly revised 2.0 percent in September, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
  • Dodge Data & Analytics released its 2016 Dodge Construction Outlook, a mainstay in construction industry forecasting and business planning. The report predicts that total U.S. construction starts for 2016 will rise 6 percent to $712 billion, following gains of 9 percent in 2014 and an estimated 13 percent in 2015.


WTI crude oil futures price: 11/24/2015: $42.87/bbl, up $2.20 from week earlier; down $32.91 from year earlier.

Natural gas futures price: 11/24/2015: $2.200/mmBtu, down $0.171 from week earlier; down $1.951 from year earlier.

Retail Gasoline Price: 11/23/2015: $2.094/gal, down $0.084 from week earlier; down $0.727 from year earlier.

Retail Diesel Price: 11/23/2015: $2.445/gal, down $0.037 from week earlier; down $1.183 from year earlier.

Weekly coal production: 11/14/2015: 16.529 million tons, up 0.056 million tons from week earlier; down 2.591 million tons from year earlier.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration