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Dublin: 12 °C Monday 20 October, 2014

Home-building at fastest rate in nine years as industry ‘turns corner’

A survey by Ulster Bank found rising activity has prompted firms to expand their staffing levels.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY CONTINUED to see growth in December, with many firms reporting significant demand for home-building.

The industry saw positive results in the Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index, with a reading of 58.3 – remaining well above the no-change park of 50.0.

This is lower than the reading of 58.8 in November but Ulster Bank said it still points to a “substantial increase” in construction activity.

Home-building remains the strongest sub-sector, with the latest improvement in the housing index pushing the rate of expansion to its fastest in almost nine years. This also brings it to the second-fastest pace in history.

Some further gains were also recorded in commercial activity, though survey respondents reported that activity on civil engineering projects continues to lag some way behind.

“Rising activity and a further sharp increase in new business levels have prompted firms to continue to expand their staffing levels: the survey showed a fourth consecutive monthly gain in employment, though the pace of increase eased slightly last month,” commented the bank’s chief economist in the Republic of Ireland, Simon Barry.

“Looking to the year ahead, Irish construction firms are optimistic that the signs of improvement that took hold over the second half of last year will be sustained through 2014,” Barry added.

Sentiment around the outlook for the next 12 months shows two-third of firms indicate they expect activity to be higher in a year’s time than in December.

Barry said Irish constructors “clearly believe that their industry has turned a corner following what has been a brutal downturn for the sector”.

Read: Optimism in construction sector ‘at a record high’>

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