Eurozone construction down to second lowest level since 1996

 
Ben Southwood
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PRODUCTION in the Eurozone construction industry plunged further between the end of 2012 and the start of 2013, figures revealed yesterday, bringing it to its second lowest level since 1996.

Output in the sector dropped a further 1.4 per cent between December last year and January this year, Eurostat said, to bring the index to 91.1, 27.6 per cent off its December 2006 peak, and barring a short-lived blip during February last year, the lowest since 1996.

Over the year construction was down 7.3 per cent across the 17-member currency bloc, the official statistical body said, with Slovenia – who suffered a 22.1 per cent crash – as well as Portugal, Poland and Slovakia hit particularly hard.

By contrast German construction output was down just 0.7 per cent over the year, and a business survey for March, released separately by think tank Zew, suggested the economy was fighting its way past the bloc’s troubles.

Zew’s indicator of economic sentiment rose 0.3 points between February and March, to rest at plus 48.5, up from mid-2012 lows close to minus 30.

The Eurozone’s other major economy faced less upbeat news, however, with an OECD report calling on it to slash taxes and red tape to boost competitiveness and revitalise its moribund economy. “The French economy has tremendous assets and considerable potential, but excessive regulation and high levels of taxation are gradually eroding its competitiveness,” said OECD boss Angel Gurria.