In comparison to the indecisive mood seen in September and October, November saw confidence in the European construction sector nose-dive. The growing severity of the Euro-zone debt crisis seemed to be behind this sharp fall.

Current confidence fell to a negative balance of -24.2%, a figure arrived at by subtracting the percentage of negative responses from positive ones. It was the first time the majority of respondents said activity had declined month-on-month since the summer of 2009 and it was the sharpest negative swing the CE Barometer has seen in its five-year history.

Respondents were also down-beat on future prospects, with the same negative balance of -24.2% saying they thought activity levels would be lower in a year's time than now. Again, it was the first time since early 2009 that this measure of confidence has been negative, and it was also the sharpest downward swing the barometer has ever seen.

Comparing activity levels to a year ago, a slim balance of +2.1% of respondents said they were still busier than a year ago. This was a marked fall from the more convincing positive results that have been seen since the start of 2010.

As a result of all of this, the overall Climate stood at -15.4%. It was the first time this broad measure of confidence has been in negative territory since November 2009.

The most striking thing about the Barometer's results this month have not so much been how negative they have been, but the sharp swing that has taken place in just a few weeks. Confidence was weak in September and October, but it was still (just) in positive territory. This could be interpreted in a number of ways - either as a flat market, or as a period of uncertainty.

However, November's results paint a clear picture of a negative outlook. The situation remains volatile, which means confidence could just as easily return to positive territory on the back of good economic news. But equally, if the debt crisis worsens, confidence could take a further knock.

Take part

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

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