German construction sector returned to growth in November after falling for the first time in seven months in October. The headline seasonally adjusted Germany Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 51.3 in November, moving back inside growth territory after a reading of 49.8 in October. Nevertheless, although representing a rebound in performance, the latest figure was still only indicative of a modest growth rate overall, and one that remained below its year-to-date average and well down on its 2017 trend level.
Behind the rebound in total industry activity in November were renewed rises in homebuilding and commercial construction work. The latter saw the slightly steeper rise, though in both cases the rate of growth was just moderate. In a reversal of the situation in October, civil engineering was the softest performing area of the sector, seeing activity levels drop after a slight gain in the month before.
Increasing inflows of new orders aided in underpinning the overall rise in industry activity in November, with the latest data extending the current sequence of order book growth to three months. Furthermore, the pace of growth reached its highest since February. Upturns in output and new orders were accompanied by a rebound in the rate of job creation throughout the construction sector in November. However, the pace of employment growth was still the second-softest seen in the past two-and-a-half years. It was a similar picture for constructors’ purchasing levels, which returned to growth but rose just slightly overall.
The survey for November indicated the continuation of solid pressure on supply chains, with building companies facing another marked rise in average lead times on materials and products. There were some reports attributing delivery delays to a lack of available freight capacity. Average prices paid for inputs surged in the month. The pace of inflation was at a 13-month high. Several surveyed businesses commented on the influence of rising transport costs, and in particular the effect of new road toll charges. Moreover, rates charged by sub-contractors rose steeply and to the greatest degree since May.
Business sentiment towards the outlook for activity in the next 12 months rebounded a bit in November, although the degree of positivity was subdued compared to the trend in the past three years. Some constructors raised worries over a deceleration in the automotive sector.
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