Growth rates slows in Republic’s construction sector

Northern Ireland companies reported sharp rise in new business orders, Ulster Bank PMI found

Ulster Bank headquarters in Dublin: the bank’s PMI has now expanded for 50 successive months. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Ulster Bank headquarters in Dublin: the bank’s PMI has now expanded for 50 successive months. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

The latest monthly Ulster Bank purchasing managers index (PMI), which measures activity in the construction sector, showed a “solid increase” in activity October but overall growth slowed to its slowest since March 2015.

The PMI has now expanded for 50 successive months. The housing and commercial construction sectors are showing strong growth under the index, but the civil engineering sector is “underperforming”, with five consecutive months of decline in activity.

The housing construction market, in particular, is still showing a “marked increase” in activity, albeit at a slightly slower expansion rate than before.

October’s PMI found that the rate of new job creation had eased, although the plethora of new building contracts ensures there was a steady stream of fresh employment opportunities for construction workers and professionals.

Cooling in momentum

“Both in absolute terms and relative to other European countries, the evidence of some recent cooling in momentum bears close watching in the months ahead,” said Simon Barry, chief economist for the republic at Ulster.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland firms saw a “sharp rise” in new business orders on the back of the continuing weak pound last month with export contracts from the south particularly buoyant, latest research shows.

Ulster Bank’s PMI report for October said the North’s private sector enjoyed yet another month of solid growth – its 13th in a row – although both the rate of expansion and the number of new orders won by local firms slowed slightly compared to the previous month.