* August ABI up 1.5 points to 50.2 - trade group
* New projects inquiry index 57.2
* Strongest activity in U.S. South region
NEW YORK, Sept 19 A leading indicator of U.S.
construction activity rose last month to its best level in five
months, indicating that demand for design services is expanding,
an architects' trade group said on Wednesday.
The architecture billings index (ABI) rose 1.5 points to a
reading of 50.2 in August, according to the American Institute
of Architects. Any reading above 50 indicates an increase in
demand for architects' services.
The ABI is considered a predictor of U.S. construction
activity nine to 12 months ahead.
A separate measure of inquiries for new projects rose 0.9
points to 57.2, the group said.
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.