Australia construction activity contracts in Nov

SYDNEY: Australia's construction industry contracted modestly in November as weakness in the apartment sector offset growth in house building, an industry survey showed on Monday.

The survey of 200 firms by Australia Industry Group and the Housing Industry Association found tight credit conditions and project delays led to a drop in new orders and employment.

The survey's main measure of overall construction activity slipped 3.3 points to 47.6, taking it back below the 50 threshold between growth and contraction.

"The survey results reaffirm the fragile state of current conditions in the construction industry which has slipped back from the tentative signs of recovery seen during the previous two months," said Ai Group associate director public policy, Peter Burn.

"The second straight month of falling new orders across the construction industry suggest the current soft market conditions are likely to persist, at least into the early part of next year," he added.

The index of new orders dipped 2.4 points to 45.6, mainly due to a drop in the engineering sector.

The measure of apartment building fell 4.7 points to 48.5, though that for houses remained positive at 51.1.

The index of commercial activity rose 7.3 points to 47.4, pointing to a slower pace of contraction, while the measure of engineering rose 1 point to 49.7.

The survey's measure of employment slid 6.8 points to 45.8, ending two months of growth. The official employment report for November is due on Thursday and analysts have been looking for a moderate gain of 5,000 in jobs. -- Reuters

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