UK construction sector rebounds after 'Beast from the East'

Output in the UK construction industry rebounded last month
Output in the UK construction industry rebounded last month

OUTPUT in the UK construction industry rebounded last month after having taken a battering from the 'Beast from the East' in March, new figures show.

Activity rose at its fastest pace for five months, according to the Markit/CIPS UK Construction purchasing managers' index (PMI), with residential house-building showing the strongest growth since May 2017.

The PMI figure rose to 52.5 last month, up from 47 in March and above economist expectations. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

However, the report showed that demand in the sector remained subdued, and new work increased only marginally, although employment numbers rose for the 21st month in a row.

Tim Moore, associate director at IHS Markit, which compiled the report, said: "A rebound in construction activity was pretty well inevitable after snowfall resulted in severe disruptions on site during March.House-building led the way, with growth in April among the strongest seen over the past two-and-a-half years."

"However, the picture was less positive in other areas of construction, with commercial building and civil engineering work rising only marginally," he added.

Supply chains remained under pressure, with low stock and transport issues contributing to longer delivery times for materials.

Input cost inflation remained at the 20-month low recorded in March. The main contributors to price rises were higher fuel costs and increase in prices on steel-related products.

The data comes after separate figures from the manufacturing sector showed activity fall to a 17-month low, which knocked sterling on Tuesday.

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser of the EY Item Club, said the survey was "hardly stellar" and that it would not dispel concerns about the health of the industry, especially as new orders growth remained low.