Canty building activity up 34pc

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 07:42 18/12/2012

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Construction activity has climbed in Canterbury during the run-up to Christmas, according to a new index, another sign the post-earthquakes rebuild is ratcheting up.

A survey of building activity in Canterbury showed a 34 per cent increase in the third quarter compared with the second in the ASB Cantometer index.

The Cantometer is a reference tool to get a taste of activity and the rebuild in Canterbury, rather than a reflection of economic growth.

"The quarterly building work put in place in Q3 was up very, very sharply over the quarter . . . it's a really strong sign that the rebuild is firmly under way," ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley said.

But other parts of the ASB Cantometer remain in negative territory, with retail and employment indicators still to pick up.

The Cantometer, developed by the bank, shows the region's aggregate activity levels have now lifted above pre-earthquake levels during the last two survey periods with the construction sector dragging up the total index.

Some of the parts of the index - construction, housing, employment, retail spending, and a population-based "miscellaneous" sub-category - are compiled monthly and others such as building activity, quarterly.

After the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, activity in Canterbury fell sharply. The pickup off the bottom was also sharp, ASB's analysis shows.

Tuffley said the Cantometer showed a December snapshot jumping to 0.2, better than the November snapshot reading of 0.1.

While construction was the runaway leader there were other positive patches in the snapshot. In the housing sub-category real estate agents were reporting the residential home market had become "more dynamic" with renewed interest in quake- damaged areas as demand continued to outstrip supply.

"As the earthquakes have dissipated a bit more some of those areas that have been a bit more questionable are now getting more focus than they were before," Tuffley said.

Guest nights, car registrations and long-term migration have remained fairly steady over recent months, Tuffley said.

"We are looking for lifts in these indicators as a sign of increased employment in the region as the rebuild commences."

On migration, the province was making ground again.

"The net external outflow between Canterbury and the rest of the world turned positive a number of months back and has been generally looking a bit healthier than the nationwide picture," he said.

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