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Confidence lifts in building sector: national survey

30 April, 2014

Business confidence in the building and construction industry is the highest it's been in six years since March 2008 according to Master Builders National Survey of Building and Construction.

Master Builders Chief Economist Peter Jones highlighted the optimistic prospects derived from the results of the Survey.

"The Survey for the March quarter 2014 released today (24 April) finds that building activity in 2014 is set to continue its rebound on the back of improved confidence in residential building," Jones said.

"Results for the March quarter show that we are beginning to see signs of the stronger confidence necessary to underpin a sustained recovery.

"We are seeing key indicators continue to strengthen while others have entered positive territory for the first time in years," Jones said.

"For the first time in nearly three years, the proportion of builders reporting higher sales jumped above 20 per cent and builders reported improved profitability of their own businesses crept into positive territory.

"Builders' confidence in the prospects for their own business rose for the third consecutive quarter. This is particularly reflective of the residential building sector's response to low rates and is an encouraging trend indicating industry's expectation that business activity will continue to rise over the next six months.

"The first green shoots marking a return of confidence in the commercial construction sector are also reported in the Survey with the best measure of current conditions since March 2011," Jones continued.

"The Survey highlights the need for the government to foster business confidence through its budget repair strategy in the forthcoming May budget, in particular balancing the need to nurture economic growth and jobs while taking the necessary hard decisions to return the budget to surplus.

"New South Wales continues to be the stand out performer confirming recently released ABS data showing an 18 per cent increase in dwelling starts for detached houses in calendar 2013.

"Victoria regained some of its previous strength and Western Australia continues to perform strongly notwithstanding the fading of intense resource investment that looms over the next few years," Jones noted.

"While the findings of the Survey are largely positive, the underlying vulnerability of the building recovery remains. Roadmaps to stronger and sustained business confidence must be the priority of the government in the upcoming federal budget."

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