• Prior 38.3

There remains a sustained downturn in new orders for Germany's construction sector, with housing activity - once again the worst performer - seeing yet another sharp fall on the month. This is the lowest reading in roughly 3½ years. Demand conditions remain rough with accelerated declines in commercial building and civil engineering activity as well. HCOB notes that:

“The building sector in Germany is experiencing a perilous plunge, with commercial building activity and civil engineering witnessing an escalated fall in November. The housing segment, leading the descent with a rapid decline, persists in cutting construction activity at a relentlessly depressive pace.

“The new order figures offer no respite, tumbling at a similarly dramatic rate as in October. Thus, a recovery remains elusive. The bombshell judgment from the German Constitutional Court, threatening substantial cuts in public investment and subsidies for the building sector, exacerbates the gloom. However, a glimmer of optimism might emerge with the apparent halt in interest rate hikes by the European Central Bank, offering a potential softening of pessimism in the future.

“In the gloom of the construction sector, one might anticipate significant room for price cuts to stimulate demand. Yet, the reality is sobering. Input prices went down for the seventh consecutive month. However, the cuts became much softer in November. The actual price level of building materials continues to be elevated, with many of them still showing prices between 30% and 70% higher than in the pre-COVID year of 2019, according to official statistics. This sentiment is echoed in the survey, where participants highlight the persistent burden of increased construction costs.

“Securing sub-contractors in the building sector is currently a breeze, but this newfound ease carries a bitter undertone. It stems from the sector's overall depressive state, with sub-contractors enduring both weaker demand and a decline in pay rates for the second consecutive month.”