Argentina building permits, sales fall on slowdown

Argentina building permits, sales fall on slowdown
Published: 27 April 2009

Argentina may release more data this week showing the country’s construction slump is deepening following the steepest drop in home sales in Buenos Aires since 2002 and a slowdown in building permits.

“The numbers are definitely still falling,” said Fausto Spotorno, an economist at Buenos Aires-based researcher Orlando Ferreres & Asociados. “The declining real estate sales data is one sign that construction is going to continue to go down.”

Construction permits in Buenos Aires fell 41 percent in the first quarter, research company said April 22. Buenos Aires home sales sank 54 percent in February from a year ago, the most since the country’s 2002 economic crisis, according to the Association of Notaries Public of Buenos Aires. Construction activity fell 2.5 percent in February from a year earlier.

March construction data, due to be released April 30, may show a drop even after the implementation of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s plan to bolster the economy by speeding up public works projects. The government intends to spend 57 billion pesos ($15.4 billion) building highways, schools and sewage lines to double employment in the construction industry to almost 800,000 people.

There are signs that the industry may be recovering. Argentina’s portland cement sales, including exports, rose 11 percent in March from February to 772,000 tons, according to the country’s portland cement association.