Structural weaknesses coupled with lasting price pressures mean the sector is still risky with a fairly negative outlook in most countries monitored.
The sector remains mainly composed of small firms with very high leverage ratios, a weakness highlighted by longer payment terms compared to other sectors.
More complexity is added into the mix by the effects of strong cyclicality and cross-country differences. Recovery in the UK has reached a plateau, while growth is negatively impacted in oil exporting countries as low oil prices put brakes on infrastructure investments. Prospects appear brighter in the Nordics – markedly Norway – and the United States.
There is also marked heterogeneity in housing prices trends. Some bubbles keep on inflating (China) while others are slowly deflating (France).