8 October 2013 — September has seen the national construction sector record its slowest decline in over three years, according to the latest Australian Performance of Construction Index.

Though despite a lift in the index of 3.9 points to 47.6, at less than 50 points it shows construction activity overall in still declining.

In September, growth in new orders drove an expansion in activity for the first time since April 2010. The activity sub-index was 8.0 points higher than the previous month, and at 51.9 ends 40 consecutive months of decline.

Australian Industry Group chief economist Julie Toth said: “The construction sector is closer to stabilisation than at any time since mid-2010. The housing and apartment sectors are driving the industry’s improved performance on the back of lower interest rates and a lift in buyer sentiment.

“Meanwhile, declines in both commercial and engineering construction moderated in the month. Despite these encouraging trends, it is clear that the industry continues to face a tough operating environment with impediments such as tight credit conditions and a lack of public sector building activity continuing to weigh on overall activity.

“Nevertheless, with new orders increasing for the first time since May 2010, there are grounds for cautious optimism that the current improving trend can be sustained in coming months.”