Building comeback into third month

The burgeoning recovery in construction picked up pace in October, with building firms reporting a third consecutive monthly rise in new business orders, and the fastest level of growth in activity for nearly eight years.

The latest edition of the monthly Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index, which gauges the health of the sector and is published today, posted a score of 59.4 points for October. This was up from a reading of 55.7 points in September, which marked the first time the index exceeded the neutral 50 point mark, separating a sector in decline from one in growth, since May 2007.

Although slightly cautious in his optimism, Simon Barry, chief economist with Ulster Bank in Ireland, said the latest survey provides further evidence that “a recovery dynamic” is beginning to in Irish construction.

“Near-term prospects appear to be relatively promising as the New Orders Index posted a fourth consecutive monthly rise, with the rate of increase in new business levels reaching its fastest in seven years,” said Mr Barry. “These signs of improvement in the construction sector are very welcome indeed, but are best viewed in the context of the enormous slump in activity which dogged the sector for much of the past six years.”

While civil engineering activity continued to fall, October saw pick-ups on both housing and commercial building projects — with activity reaching the highest levels since Jan 2005 and Feb 2007, respectively. Construction firms also noted a marginal increase in employment levels for the second straight month.

Optimism among respondents also measured strongly in the latest monitor.


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