Building sector declines again

The construction sector plunged further into decline last month, with one of the main industry barometers measuring the sharpest rate of deterioration for more than six months.

April’s Ulster Bank Construction PMI — published this morning — shows a reading of 41.9 points. This is down from a 43.1 point reading for March and a 45.9 one for February.

The industry has now been in steady decline for 71 consecutive months.

“The PMI dipped to its lowest level since September of last year, as the pace of contraction quickened for the third month in a row — reflecting renewed deterioration in both housing and commercial activity trends,” noted Simon Barry, Ulster Bank’s chief economist in the Republic.

“While there was a slight easing in the pace of decline in civil engineering, this remains the weakest of the three sub-sectors,” he added.

Those individual indices show a drop from 45 points to 43.8 in housing activity and from 43.7 to 39.8 in commercial activity; but civil engineering went from 31.7 points to 34.1 — still, however, substantially under the neutral 50 point mark, which separates a sector in decline from one in growth mode.

The latest PMI also details a “substantial” decrease in new business levels for firms in April (driven, largely, by a “fragile” client confidence level), with the month also showing the fastest job shedding rate in the year, to date.

Falling demand contributed to a further decrease in purchasing activity, among firms.


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