Confidence in the European construction sector took a knock in October as respondents to the CE Barometer survey said month-on-month activity levels were weak and that they were busier a year ago.
When asked how activity levels compared to September, a positive balance of just +0.9% of respondents said things had picked up. The balance figure is the percentage of positive responses, minus the number of negative ones.
This was the lowest this measure of confidence has been since August last year. Although there is sometimes a seasonal effect around this time of year – activity can fall compared to the summer due to worse weather in the final quarter – the drop from September’s figure of +7.3% is bigger than usual.
More worrying is the fact that a negative balance of -0.9% of respondents said activity was lower in October than a year previously. Again, this is the first time since last summer that this measure of confidence has been so low, and indeed in negative territory, and it marks a sharp turnaround to the rest of 2014, when the figure had been comfortably in the positive double-digit territory.
But one thing that has not changed is that respondents remain positive about the future, with a positive balance of +29.1% saying they thought business would be better in a year’s time compared to this month. In contrast to the other measures of confidence, this was a big step up from a slightly weak result in September, returning this metric to the area it has been in for two years.
This somewhat mixed set of results took the CE Climate, an overall measure of confidence, to +9.7%. Still in positive territory, but the weakest it has been since July last year.
As far as the CE Barometer ‘clock’ is concerned, the results of a weak current picture and bullishness about the future actually indicate an up-turn. However, it remains to be seen in future months whether this view endures.
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