First rise in new business at Irish construction firms since March 2007

New figures are bringing positive news for the construction industry.

New figures are bringing positive news for the construction industry.

The Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers index for July shows a slight increase in new business.

According to the figures, activity is still slowing, but last month saw the lowest rate of contraction for three years.

The overall index increased marginally during July to 45.0, from 44.9 in June.

Chief Economist with Ulster Bank Simon Barry said it is a positive development, but the difficulties in the sector are far from over.

"The July reading of the Ulster Bank Construction PMI indicates that conditions in the Irish construction sector clearly remain very tough at present," Mr Barry said.

"The headline activity index shows that activity fell once again last month, extending the period of decline to over three years. With activity levels across all three sub-sectors of housing, commercial and civil engineering continuing to slide, firms are continuing to cut back sharply on their employment levels, though the pace of job cuts did ease to the slowest seen since September 2007.

“Looking forward, the July survey picked up a further improvement in confidence among Irish construction firms," Mr Barry added.

"The index of future business activity reached its highest level since early 2007 as firms continue to believe they will see some increase in activity as they look 12 months ahead.

"As heartening as this development is, the increase is very modest indeed and it is probably more an indication of possible stabilisation in the sector at very weak levels rather than a strong recovery any time soon.”

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