Freeze and Budget worsen Irish building slump

Published:  19 January, 2011

DUBLIN: Ireland's construction industry suffered a sharp fall in activity last month as severe weather choked existing projects and a budget cuts choked new ones according to the latest Ulster Bank Purchasing Managers' Index.

"It was a weak end to another extremely tough year," said Ulster Bank economist Simon Barry, noting that activity had fallen at its sharpest pace since May.

New orders also fell, suggesting the construction industry's collapse, which began in 2008, will continue into its fourth year.

The weakest sector remains civil engineering, which recorded a result of 30.2 in December, well below the survey's 'break-even' mark of 50.

Commercial activity also slumped in December, dipping from 43.4 to 41.7, while housing activity improved marginally from 44.6 to 45.5.

All three sectors remain in decline, since all their results are below the crucial 50 mark, while the overall industry-wide result dipped from 41.7 in November to 40.6 in December.

However, the survey revealed a "slight improvement in sentiment" among companies amid the "expectation that the economy will stabilise in the coming year".

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