Economics: Irish construction PMI rises to 61.8 in May from 60.7 in April

State infrastructure building slowed last month as construction of homes and offices rocketed ahead, a new survey published on Monday shows.

The Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) shows that commercial and house-building drove further expansion in the industry last month. The index, which follows the sector’s performance every month, hit 61.8 in May indicating a sharp rate of growth.

The PMI takes 50 as its benchmark. Any reading above that figure indicates the industry expanded on the previous month, while any result below that number indicates that it shrank. May’s reading was ahead of the 60.7 recorded in April, signalling that the industry’s momentum increased last month.

However, the result for civil engineering – which consists mainly of State-funded projects such as roads, schools and other infrastructure – fell to 48.8 in May, meaning activity in this area declined last month.

According to the bank, activity has now grown in each of the last 57 months, indicating that construction’s recovery now stretches back to 2013.

Commercial building, mostly offices, rose to 65.6, while housing climbed to 65.2.

Employment grew on the back of the expansion, although at a slightly slower rate than in May. There are growing fears that construction will shortly face a skills squeeze, particularly as the number of apprentices joining the industry fell sharply over the last decade.

New orders, an indicator of future work, continued to grow, hitting a 12-month high, according to the index.

Economics: Number of new Irish cars licensed forecast to have risen year-on-year in May

Later this morning the Central Statistics Office will release official data on new private cars licensed in May. The number of new private cars licensed for the first time fell by 13.9% in April compared to the same time last year. There were 11,557 new private cars licensed for the first time in April, down from 13,427 in the same month in 2017.

For the first four months of 2018, 69,959 new private cars were licensed, a fall of 5.7% on the same period last year.

Meanwhile, there were 8,671 used or imported private cars licensed in April, a rise of 19.2% on April 2017. The number of used private cars licensed in the January-April period increased by 10.8% to 33,377 compared with a figure of 30,128 in the same time last year.

An annual decrease of 5.0% in new cars licensed is expected for 2018 as a whole.

As regards May, we are anticipating an annual increase of 3.5% in new cars licensed.

Alan McQuaid (11/6/18)
Economist