Saturday 24 February 2018

Building sector yet to hit rock bottom

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

HOPES that the construction sector could finally have stabilised have been dashed after new data shows a fall in new orders since the start of the year.

The Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) fell in January, at the fastest rate for three months.

The index is based on a survey of managers in the construction sector.

It measures business activity on a scale either side of 50 -- where a number above 50 signifies growth and a number from 50 down records a decline in activity.

The construction sector has been in decline since 2007 but in December the rate of decline slowed to its lowest in four-and -a-half years. The turnaround was led by a rise in new orders.

The news had raised hopes that the decline might finally have bottomed out.

That hope has been dashed by latest data however.

Now it has emerged that new orders fell in January. Meanwhile the cost of doing business rose.

Building firms continue to shed jobs -- a trend that has been relentlessly repeated every month since May 2007.

Of the three main construction sectors house building and civil engineering both declined in January, with commercial activity recording modest growth.

The weaker trend in the construction sector is in line with the overall economy.

January did see a pick up in commercial activity however, the first since October 2007.

Managers are also more optimistic about future prospects that any time since May 2011.

Irish Independent

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