October was another weak month for the CE Barometer, with confidence in the European construction sector once again showing no real direction. Although, as in September, our arrow points to the 'Boom' segment of the clock, sentiment is so finely balanced that this should not be taken at face value.
It would be wiser to think of sentiment pointing to a flat market, or perhaps even a turning point, with positive and negative results to last month's survey more or less cancelling each other out. The situation was similar in September, although confidence has slipped a little more since then.
In terms of current activity, a positive balance of just +2.7% of respondents said they were busier in October than the previous month. The intrinsic statistical errors in surveys like the CE Barometer mean the true picture could be a negative result.
Similarly, sentiment about the future outlook slipped from the previous month to just +3.6%. There was however an increase in the number of people saying they were busier now than a year ago, keeping this measure of confidence well in positive territory at +15.3%.
However, the overall impact on the CE Climate was another drop to a value of +7.2% for this composite score - the lowest it has been since January 2010.
Coming on the back of weak results earlier in the summer, October's figures clearly prove that the previous results were not just a seasonal slowdown, but point to a more fundamental problem. The obvious culprit is the crisis over Euro-zone debt repayments, which has sapped confidence in areas like stock markets.
At best, the CE Barometer is pointing to a flat market. In a seasonal industry like construction, there is unlikely to be an improvement of the winter months, and it is likely to be early 2012 before there is any solid sign of improvement.
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