BlueTarp Building Supply Index, 3Q17
BlueTarp Financial

A credit management company's health index for building supply companies hit another record high in the third quarter, the firm reported today. But it added that a companion survey finds contractors' optimism has declined.

BlueTarp Financial's Building Supply Index rose to 134.14 in the July-to-September period from a year-earlier 126.52. The Portland, Maine-based company, which provides credit management services to 2,000 suppliers that together have 120,000 pro customers, bases its index on a combination of public data--construction permits, construction spending, and consumer confidence--and its own spending and delinquency data. A score above 100 reflects healthy economic activity.

Results of a 3Q17 survey by BlueTarp Financial
BlueTarp Financial

"Building permits and construction spend saw a slight increase, but consumer confidence continues to be the main driver for the elevated index level," the company said.

BlueTarp also surveys contractors every quarter, and this time it saw a decline in confidence levels compared with the previous quarter. The numbers in the charts at left show the percentage of respondents with positive views minus the percentage of respondents with a negative outlook.

“Consumer confidence and increase in construction spend is driving the index to all-time highs,” said Scott Simpson, president and CEO of BlueTarp. “We continue to see elevated delinquency levels warranting careful monitoring, but [those levels] held steady this last quarter.”

Quadrant chart from BlueTarp Financial
BlueTarp Financial

Indeed, a quadrant chart that BlueTarp published today in conjunction with the index shows payments remaining in the "cautious" sector, with both spending and delinquencies up slightly from the April-to-June quarter.