March saw something of a seasonal improvement in European construction activity, with a balance of -7,2% of respondents saying activity picked-up compared to February. Although still in negative territory, this was the best this measure of confidence has been since September.
The balance figure is calculated as the percentage of respondents giving positive responses, minus the number giving negative answers. February was the tenth consecutive month of declines in current activity.
Sentiment on the future outlook was also negative at -4,6%, a step backwards from the figure of -1,6% seen in February. On the other hand, March's result was significantly better than the pessimism seen throughout the second half of last year.
As a result of these two figures, our clock is still in the ‘Recession' segment. The shortness of the arrow reflects the low magnitude of both responses. It indicates that there is no single clear trend in the market, which may be indicative of a turning point.
As has been the case for the last nine months or so, it was striking in March how many respondents said activity was lower compared to a year ago. With a balance of -65,5%, this was the worst this measure has been since the CE Barometer was launched in 2006.
This also illustrates how unforeseen the current downturn was. In March last year a balance of +25,7% of respondents said activity would be higher in a years time (now).
CE would like to thank all those that took part in the February survey. It was completed by more than 300 construction professionals in 26 countries around the region.