b'Contractors Remained Confident in NovemberConstruction industry leaders remained confident in November, according to Associated Builders and Contractors. Two of the three components of ABCs Construction Confidence Index increased for the month; all three remained above the diffusion index threshold of 50. In November, ABCs Construction Confidence Index increased from 58.7 to 59.9 for staffing levels and from 53.1 to 57 for sales expectations. The index decreased from 52.3 to 51 for profit margin expectations. Additionally, ABCs Construction Backlog Indicator increased from 8.4 months in October to 8.5 months in November, which is down 0.7 months from November 2022. A growing number of contractors are reporting declines in backlog, said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. The interest rate hikes implemented by the Federal Reserve appear to be making more of a mark on the economy. Not only has the cost of capital risen over the past 20-plus months, but credit conditions are also tightening, rendering project financing even more challenging. The good news is that certain interest rates have begun to fall in anticipation of Federal Reserve rate cuts next year, perhaps as early as the first quarter, Basu continued. Still, 2024 is poised to be weaker from a construction demand perspective for many firms, especially those that depend heavily on private developers. Those operating in public construction and/or industrial segments should meet with less resistance on average. 4'