No signs of Irish recovery
Published:  16 December, 2009

DUBLIN: Conditions for the beleaguered Irish construction industry continued to deteriorate last month, with new business activity experiencing its fastest decline since May, according to the Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers' Index.

Simon Barry, chief economist at Ulster Bank, said: "The headline activity index edged lower last month, and has essentially been unchanged at very low levels since September. There was no indication of improvement in the employment situation, with the jobs index continuing to point to layoffs."

This contrasts with trends in other areas of the economy that are beginning to move in the right direction, he said.

Barry said it was disappointing to see a decline. "While these latest results pre-date last week's Budget announcement, cutbacks in government spending in the coming year were also cited as a negative for sentiment in the November survey," he added.

Overall operating conditions in the troubled sector deteriorated more sharply than in the previous month with the index of overall performance of the construction economy down to 34.2 in November, from 34.5 in the preceding month.

A reading below 50 signals a contraction and above 50 an expansion in activity levels.

Rates of decline in activity, new orders and employment all accelerated. After posting mild optimism in each of the previous five months, construction firms were pessimistic regarding future activity levels in November. Negativity was due to the fragility of the wider Irish economy, and increased competition in the sector.

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