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Small improvement in 2010 industry sales volumes

Mineral Products Association releases latest quarterly survey of construction material trends

SALES of aggregates, cement and mineral products declined sharply in the fourth quarter of 2010, largely due to the poor weather in December. For the year as a whole, however, aggregates sales volumes improved by 1%, cement by 3% and asphalt by 5%, although ready-mixed concrete sales declined by 1%.

These figures, which are published in the Mineral Products Association’s latest quarterly survey of construction material trends, compare with the 5.1% preliminary estimate of construction growth in 2010 reported by government on 25 January.

The MPA figures appear to support the view of government that the fourth-quarter construction decline – which contributed significantly to the recorded fall in GDP – was substantially weather related.

However, while construction was the highest comparative growth sector of the economy in 2010, the MPA says there are strong indicators that construction output will fall in 2011 and be a drag on growth.

Nigel Jackson, chief executive of the MPA, commented: ‘Industry volumes were slightly higher in 2010 but this has provided little respite because any recovery was from historically low levels of activity in 2009 and we anticipate further market decline in 2011 as construction output falls.

‘While we are pleased that the Government recognized the importance of infrastructure investment in the Comprehensive Spending Review, we have particular concerns about the asphalt market and the relationship between inadequate funding for road improvements and visibly deteriorating road conditions.

‘There is an urgent need to improve critical national infrastructure and we urge government to take advantage of the ability of transport investment to stimulate economic recovery and growth.
‘With the prospect of stronger private sector growth from 2012/13 and progress on major infrastructure prospects, sector demand will eventually recover – but 2011 will continue to be very tough,’ said Mr Jackson.


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