Builders are expecting a sharp fall in activity in 2009 with more than 80% forecasting job cuts, Master Builders Australia says.

The December 2008 quarter Australian National Survey of Building and Construction released today has found builder sentiment plummeted in the final months of the year.

'There was a worsening and sharp fall in expectations for their own business activity, profits and investment,' MBA chief economist Peter Jones said in a statement.

'And disturbingly, builders are now signalling that they intend to cut employees and subcontractors in the period ahead.'

One glimmer of hope was evidence of early signs of activity, particularly in housing, as a result of the interest rate cuts and the $1.5bn extension to the first home owners' grant as part of the economic security package.

The Age