Great British Period on Period Construction Output Falls for Fifth Consecutive Quarter

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics today show a fall in output in 7 of the 9 defined sectors. The largest fall being in the private commercial sector.

As the graphic below illustrates, the infrastructure sector has been one of the few growth areas over the past quarter although, output is still a way off the same period a year previous.

Here is a link to the ONS publication and dataset if you want more detail:

 PUBLICATION

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/construction/output-in-the-construction-industry/september-and-q3-2012/stb-construction-output-2012-q3.html

DATA

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/re-reference-tables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-262512

 In other (equally dismal) news, my progress is slow with the construction share price data presentation and insight. I have a fully functioning spread sheet including charts, heat maps, interactive tables, etc. (which I use to aid trading decisions), yet its translation to the web is fraught with difficulty, mostly thanks to my lack of coding knowledge! I will persevere and hopefully it will be up within the next couple of months. In the meantime, I will start to post more regular Construction Company market insight and analysis in the form of charts and commentary which will become more interactive once I get the hang of this coding business.

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UK Constuction Industry Market Analysis Sources

These headlines have become commonplace and reflect the current shabby state of the wider economy and the sentiment of many construction firms. Indeed, many of us can feel the diminution of positive sentiment in our everyday roles but for many firms it seems to be business as usual. The turmoil of the economy means different things to different companies. For some it may even provide business opportunity. So how do we measure the economic health of the whole construction industry with any accuracy?

To answer my own question…..we use the best data available to us.

This post documents some of the sources of data that I use every week to keep track of construction industry trend and sentiment. Much like an investment analyst or trader tracks key data and news feeds relating to the wider economy, particular company performance, or a specific currency pair, I like to keep up to date on the economic health of the industry within which I practice the most. I don’t have multiple screens running stochastic simulations on construction indices but I do take the occasional look at some of data provided by the following sources.

As you will see, I have listed some pros and cons of each source and attempted to assign each a crude score. Comparison is a tricky one – each medium is very different and often serves a unique purpose (how do you compare the ONS to Construction News?) so I have scored them based on four common criteria in an attempt to demonstrate usefulness by highlighting strengths and weaknesses.

These are subjective views and comments are, of course, very welcome.

Structure of the UK Construction Industry – August 2012

It’s been a while since my last post- I have been wholly consumed with work and other obligatory life commitments, but a poor show none the less. So as some kind of recompense, I thought I would take a look at some of the most recently published ONS construction data in some detail and upload some interesting charts.

The rather messy charts below (click on it to enlarge) represent data from the ONS Construction Statistics No. 13, 2012 Edition published 24th August 2012. Let’s start by looking at a snapshot of our industry constituents – total firms by trade and civil engineering firms (the field I work in most) in more detail…..

UK Construction Industry Structure 08/2012

UK Construction Industry Structure 08/2012

It would be interesting to visualise how the industry has changed shape over the years but having read some of the background information, it would seem that any shift would merely represent changes in the registers (the Builders Address File (BAF) pre 2010 and the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) from 2010). It should also be noted that the size of firms will not be entirely accurate – ‘firms’ are recognised as ‘reporting units’ so larger companies may report through a plethora of separate operating companies/regional units/divisions/etc.

The moral of the story…..don’t take all data and statistics at face value, especially summary headlines – context is everything.

Next post I’ll do a summary of the most useful construction industry indicators that I personally use on a monthly basis. Something to look forward to right?! I will try to provide some more interesting visualisations too!

Volume of Construction Output – May 2012

In constant (2005) prices, non-seasonally adjusted, the recent ONS release shows the total volume of construction output fell 6.30% from £8,876m to £8,317m in May 2012 compared with the May 2011.

 The decline is driven by a decrease in new public work specifically:

  •  the volume of new public housing work decreased by 22.9%
  • the volume of new public non-housing (excluding infrastructure) decreased by 21.5%
  • the volume of new infrastructure decreased by 21.3%
Analysis in Brief

Analysis in Brief

Volume of construction output was sighted as a key contributor to the UK’s re-entry into double-dip recession and given the output in May this trend looks set to continue although we must keep in mind that figures are not seasonally adjusted so the impression made by the Queens Jubilee is not taken into account. 

There may however, be some much needed light at the end of the tunnel ; after months of pronouncements of intent to boost construction starts and thus the UK economy, the government has this week announced they will use their strong credit position to guarantee £40 billion of eligible projects from the National Infrastructure Plan before 2015. The announcement seems to have been welcomed by industry leaders although the right funding model will be crucial……we await the birth of the ‘son of PFI’!