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Ireland Construction Sector Shrinks At Record Pace On Covid-19 Outbreak

Ireland's construction sector contracted at a record pace in April, amid coronavirus, or Covid-19, pandemic and lockdown restrictions, data from the IHS Markit showed on Monday.

The Ulster Bank construction Purchasing Managers' Index fell to 4.5 in April from 28.9 in March.

This was the steepest deterioration since the survey began in June 2000. Any score below 50 indicates contraction in the sector.

"The vast majority of survey respondents (nearly 93 percent) reported a reduction in business activity from March, reflecting widespread site closures in response to the Covid-19-related public health restrictive measures," Simon Barry, chief economist Republic of Ireland at Ulster Bank, said.

"The forward-looking elements of the PMI survey also pointed to extreme and widespread weakness in April," Barry added.

Housing activity, civil engineering activity and commercial activity logged steep declines in April.

New orders decreased in April amid widespread reports of sites and business closure. New work fell at the sharpest rate seen since the survey began.

Employment also declined at a record pace in April but the rate of fall was softer than seen in activity and new orders.

The purchasing activity decreased for the second straight month and at the sharpest pace since the survey began. Suppliers' delivery time lengthened to the greatest extend in the survey's history.

Input prices declined for the first time since August 2013 and at the fastest pace in over a decade as input demand fell.

For the 12-month outlook, firms were pessimistic but sentiment was higher marginally than in March.

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