Ulster Bank conducts a monthly survey of activity in the construction sector  - the Construction Purchasing Managers Index, or PMI. The latest survey showed that the pace of growth in activity slowed in August for the third month in a row bringing the pace of growth in the sector to its lowest point in around two and a half years.

Simon Barry, chief economist at Ulster Bank, emphasised that the sector was still expanding, but he said there was some slippage in the momentum behind the recovery. "There was some weakness evident in civil engineering. That's been a feature for some time. There was also some easing of growth in commercial activity. Housing activity continues to rise which is welcome given the strong demand for housing."


Mr Barry said the rapid growth in housing had to be viewed against the backdrop of the depressed levels from which it was growing. "It's still at relatively low levels and we need to see more vigourous expansion to get back to the levels required to get back to the levels required to meet demographic needs."

He shared the concerns expressed by the Governor of the Central Bank last week when he cautioned against too rapid an expansion in house building which could destabilise the economy by leading to overheating. "It is a concern. The economy has experienced rapid recovery. The closer we get to full employment, the weaker the case to actively stimulate the economy. At the moment, this appears to be a risk rather than a concern. If the economy retains its vigourous pace of growth, it's likely to government will face difficult decisions and it may need to rein in other areas or perhaps raise taxes," he concluded.

The economist also questioned the usefulness of the help to buy scheme as it was adding to demand with a demand side measure. "It will be interesting to see whether the Government chooses to focus the help to buy a little more tightly in order to avoid inflationary consequences of the demand side measure that it is," he concluded.

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MORNING BRIEFS - The number of property sales in the first six months of this year was up around 8.5% on the same period in 2016. This is according to an analysis of the Property Price Register carried out by the property website, Myhome.ie. There was a total of 23,148 sales in the period with a total transaction value of €5.8 billion, an increase of 15% on the €5.1 billion in the first half of 2016.

*** Homecare provider, Bluebird Care, has announced the creation of 370 jobs at its 26 offices across the country. Recruitment is due to begin at several centres in the west, the southeast and Dublin regions in the coming weeks. It will see the company grow its home care team by a fifth.

*** Coca Cola retains the top spot on the list of most recognisable and purchased brands here. This is according to the latest brand survey carried out by Checkout magazine and Nielsen. The list is top heavy with Irish brands, with Avonmore in third place behind Cadbury; Brennans is in fourth and Tayto in sixth. The highest new entry to the list is Lindt, which comes in at 40.