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Business barometer

ECONOMY

Below are some key data sources on construction performance:

Output The total volume of construction output in the 12 months to the third quarter fell by 1 per cent compared with the previous year.

Overall new work fell over the same period, despite increases in the private housing, private industrial and private commercial sectors. Infrastructure dropped 15 per cent over the 12 months despite a jump of 8 per cent in the third quarter.

Total repair and maintenance was unchanged, with a decrease in private housing being matched by increases in public housing and private and public non-housing. www.dti.gov.uk

Orders

Orders in the year to November 2005 rose by 10 per cent compared with orders in the previous 12 months, and orders in the three months to November 2005 rose by 20 per cent compared with the same period a year earlier.

Private housing orders in the year to November 2005 rose by 9 per cent compared with those in the previous year. Public housing and housing association orders rose by 7 per cent in the year to November 2005 compared with the previous year.

www. dti. gov. uk

CPA Sales of construction products fell for a third consecutive quarter during the final months of 2005, according to the latest Construction Activity Barometer. The survey suggests that a weaker housing market and a slowdown in Government investment programmes continued to depress construction activity during the fourth quarter of 2005. Construction product manufacturers' sales volumes during the quarter failed to match those of a year ago. The product manufactures are cautious about future prospects.

www. constprod. org. uk

NHBC NHBC statistics showed a substantial increase in UK housing association applications in November. Also, up to November there had been a 42 per cent increase in housing association applicat ions on the same period last year. NHBC revealed that the average daily sales of new homes in the UK for the third quarter of 2005 was 542, a decrease of 1 per cent on the same period in 2004. www. nhbc. co. uk

RICS Overall construction activity held steady in the fourth quarter of 2005, according to the latest RICS construction survey. Public investment drove increases in public housing and infrastructure, while growth in the private housing sector slowed. But the private sector did contribute to growth with significant gains in private industrial and commercial workloads, hinting at a business investment upturn.

www. rics. org

CIPS Latest CIPS data signalled a slowdown in the rate of expansion of the UK construction sector in December. The headline Construction Purchasing Managers' Index, adjusted to measure the overall health of the construction economy, fell to 52.6, its lowest level in seven months, though being above the neutral 50 mark it still indicates expansion. www. cips. org. uk

Joint industry trade survey Construction output rose modestly during the third quarter of 2005, with increases in Government building work offsetting a weakening private sector, according to the joint industry trade survey.

But the industry experienced pressure on margins as a result of sharp cost increases with higher labour, energy and raw material costs feeding through. Skill shortages continue to dog building contractors, with 86 per cent reporting recruitment difficulties, up from 78 per cent in the first quarter of 2005. www. thecc.

co. uk, www. constprod. org. uk