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Irish construction industry moves into fourth year of decline

The construction industry in the Republic of Ireland has moved into its fourth year of decline after 36 months of contraction, with the pace of the fall increasing in May.

The latest Ulster Bank Construction purchasing managers index posted an activity reading for May of 40, down from 42.5 in April and well below the 50 point mark which is an indication of decline.

The construction industry has now declined for three full years in Ireland with the latest PMI reading the 36th consecutive month of decline.

By contrast the latest purchasing managers index in the UK from the chartered institute of purchasing and supply and economics firm Markit posted a May reading of 58.5, the strongest growth in the construction industry since September 2007.

In Ireland activity on both residential and public sector projects contracted at sharper rates than in April. However, commercial activity fell at a slightly weaker pace.

Ulster Bank Ireland chief economist Simon Barry said: “While indicators of current activity in the sector continue to paint a picture of weakness, the more forward-looking elements of the survey continue to offer some encouragement about future prospects.

“Notably, the expectations index recorded another increase in May to show confidence at its highest level since March 2007, as firms expressed more hope that wider economic conditions will strengthen in the coming year.”