The Irish construction sector again recorded strong growth of activity and new
orders in November as the recovery in the sector continued. Furthermore, a marked pick-up in the rate of
job creation was seen during the month and business sentiment was the highest since the survey began
in June 2000. The Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI ) -
- a seasonally
adjusted index designed to track changes in total construction activity - - remained well above
the 50.0 no-change mark in November, posting 58.8, down from 59.4 in October. Construction activity has now
risen in three successive months. Anecdotal evidence suggested that rising new business amid
improving market conditions had supported the latest increase in activity.
However, the number of firms polled in this survey is not disclosed, suggesting
that the sample is small - - it is unusual in PMI survey results that the number
of firms in the sample is not published.
Simon Barry, chief economist Republic of Ireland at Ulster Bank, noted that:
“The November results of the Ulster Bank Construction PMI survey confirm that
activity trends in the Irish construction sector continue to improve. The headline PMI index did fall
slightly last month, but at 58.8 it remains well above 50, signalling solid ongoing expansion in activity
levels. In keeping with the pattern of the last several months, the improvements are being underpinned by
recoveries in both the Housing and Commercial arenas where activity has now increased in each of the
past five and four months respectively.
“Near-term prospects for the sector appear favourable, judging by a further
acceleration in the rate of growth of new business. The New Orders index reached its highest level in over
seven years as firms reported higher demand both at home and abroad, in the process spurring a third
consecutive monthly rise in employment. Moreover, optimism levels of survey respondents reached
their highest levels since the survey began in 2000, helped by the recent improvements in
construction activity and orders, and in the wider economy. Of course activity levels in construction remain
extremely low following the 2007-13 crash. So, to reiterate a point we have made previously, the recent
improvements in construction activity and confidence - as welcome as they are - need to be seen
in the context of the huge declines of recent years.”
Residential and commercial sectors record further growth Activity on both housing and commercial projects rose strongly again during November, with rates of expansion easing only slightly from the previous month. Civil engineering continued to see a fall in activity, although the pace of reduction remained much slower than earlier in the year.
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