Although confidence in the European construction sector remained positive in September, the strength of that feeling was diminished compared to earlier in the year. Month-to-month activity was low again, following a slip in August, but there was also a notable weakening in the future outlook, which had been robust since June last year
The overall climate of the September survey remained upbeat, with a positive balance of +10.9%. The balance figure is the percentage of positive responses, minus the number of negative ones. While still in positive territory, this measure of confidence was the lowest it has been since January
The reason for this fall from August level of +22% of the overall climate was a drop in sentiment about the future. A positive balance of +16.3% of respondents said they expected activity levels to be higher in a year’s time than now. Again, although this is safely in positive territory, it was a weak result compared to the last year or so.
This measure of confidence has been as high as +50% or more this year, and you would have to go back to the results of the May 2013 C Barometer to find a lower result.
The measure of current sentiment, meanwhile was little changed from August at a positive balance of +7.3%. Positive again, but well short of the highs of +20% ore more seen in the spring months.
The lower results seen in August compared to the rest of the year might be put down to a seasonal summer slowdown. Howeve3r, a second month in a row of weakening results – particularly with the future outlook coming in softer than before – might be cause for greater concern.
This is illustrated by the ‘clock’ diagram, where the overall positive sentiment is indicated by the direction of the arrow, but the relative weakness of those views – only a small number of positive responses outweigh the negative ones – is represented by how short the arrow is.
The clock only indicates which way the market is heading, and how many people share that view – the length of the arrow is the strength of the sentiment. It does not indicate how big market growth might be.
The survey, which takes just a one minute to complete, is open to all construction professionals working in Europe. The CE Barometer survey is open from the 1st to the 15th of each month on our website. Full information can be found at www.cebarometer.eu
Click here to read last month's CE Barometer results.