* July billings index up 2.8 pts to 48.7
* Project inquiries index 56.3
* Demand for design services to track wider economy: AIA
NEW YORK, Aug 22 A leading indicator of U.S.
construction activity rebounded in July but remained at a level
that indicates declining demand for design services, according
to an architects trade group.
The architecture billings index rose 2.8 points to 48.7 last
month, the highest since March, the American Institute of
Architects said on Wednesday. The billings index, which measures
demand for architects' services, helps predict construction
activity nine to 12 months ahead. Any measure below 50 indicates
a decline in billings.
"As long as overall economic conditions continue to show
improvement, modest declines should shift over to growth in
design activity over the coming months," AIA Chief Economist
Kermit Baker said in a statement.
A separate measure of new project inquiries rose 1.9 points
to 56.3 last month. Multiple inquiries for the same project mean
that this measure is typically higher than the billings index.
These monthly indexes are tracked by industrial companies
and their investors as an indicator of future demand for
machinery and components used to erect buildings. Most
diversified manufacturers derive at least some sales from
construction of office buildings, retail and warehouse space.
Companies exposed to the sector include Honeywell
International Inc, Tyco International Ltd,
Ingersoll Rand Plc, Cummins Inc, Eaton Corp
, Manitowoc Co Inc, Caterpillar Inc,
Deere & Co and Terex Corp.
European companies such as Siemens AG, Schneider
Electric SA and lock maker Assa Abloy also
get a portion of revenue from construction.