Another fall in new orders contributed to a sharp fall in Irish construction activity in October, while business sentiment in the sector was the lowest in nearly two years
The latest Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers index posted 42.6 last month, up from 41.9 in September.
Any figure over 50 signals growth in a sector, while a figure under 50 signals contraction.
Ulster Bank said that although the rate of contraction in activity slowed to the weakest in five months it was still marked.
Companies highlighted a lack of confidence within the sector, it added.
The index monitors housing, commercial and civil engineering activity. All three sub-sectors reported reduced activity again last month, with civil engineering seeing the biggest decline. The slowest decrease in activity was on commercial projects, although Ulster Bank noted that the race of decline accelerated.
The pace of reduction in housing activity slowed over the month, Ulster Bank added.
Today’s index reveals that new business declined for the tenth month in a row in October due to strong competitive pressures. As workloads declined, construction firms lowered their staffing levels again last month. Almost one in five companies cut jobs in October.
Construction firms also reduced their input buying last month. Purchasing activity has now fallen in each of the past 26 months. Meanwhile, input prices rose for the third month in a row due to higher energy and fuel costs.
Builders’ level of optimism for the 12 month outlook fell to the lowest level since November 2010 with a number of respondents predicting that demand would continue to fall over the coming year.
”The latest survey results confirm that widespread weakness remains a feature of the Irish construction landscape, with large scale declines still evident across housing, commercial and, especially, civil engineering sub sectors,” commented Ulster Bank’s chief economist Simon Barry.