According to The Australian Financial Review, construction activity grew at its fastest pace in more than two years in February, as expanding house building and infrastructure work more than offset a continued decline in work on apartments.
An index measuring activity across the four sectors of houses, apartments, commercial and infrastructure construction jumped to 54.7 last month, a gain of 7.4 points from January and the highest reading since September 2014.
A rapid growth in current house building activity and future orders – a leading indicator – and a similar situation in engineering due to road and rail projects coming on stream underpinned the healthier picture.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 shows contraction. The greater the divergence from 50, the faster the rate of expansion or contraction.
The index for house building activity jumped 10.7 points to 60.9, while new orders in the house building sector rose 13.7 points to 63, the highest level since September 2014, when it was 66.2.
"There is still life left in Australia's new home building sectors," HIA chief economist Harley Dale said. "New home construction activity will hold up very well in the short term, after which there will be a marked decline in medium/high-density construction relative to detached housing."
The separate index for engineering construction activity grew 11.1 points to 53.9 points, while new orders in the sector also turned positive, rising 7.7 points from January to 51.1. It was the first expansion in new orders since September last year.
"This improvement reflects new contracts secured by businesses for construction work in areas outside of mining, including road and rail projects," the report said.
The figures back up a November report by the Australian Construction Industry Forum group, which said infrastructure spending would overtake residential construction within three years as a faster than expected pick-up lifts engineering work out of its post-mining-boom slump.
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