House building boosts UK construction industry. Housebuilding remained close to a ten-year high in April, providing a further boost for the economy as the construction sector expanded for a twelfth consecutive month.
While overall expansion slowed to a six-month low last month, a survey by Markit on Friday showed residential construction remained at robust levels in April, as housing starts grew at a rate of around 45,000 a quarter.
The Markit/CIPS UK construction purchasing managers’ index PMI eased to 60.8 in April from 62.5 in March. While this was weaker than the reading of 62 expected by economists, activity remained well above the 50 level that divides growth from contraction, and has now expanded for a year.
The slowdown was primarily driven by a sharp fall in civil engineering work, according to Markit. It said some firms had reported a moderation in activity coming from flood relief work earlier in the year.
“Construction growth has started to moderate from the rapid pace seen over the winter, but strong rises in new work and payroll numbers provide ample optimism that output will expand strongly over the course of 2014,” said Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit.
“Better economic conditions, a surge in house building, improved access to finance and greater investment spending are all important tailwinds for UK construction growth this year. Moreover, the latest survey is another indication that current UK construction trends are healthier than the relatively meagre official growth estimates so far this year.”
House prices have surged this year, as supply continues to lag behind demand. The Bank of England’s deputy governor warned on Thursday night that it would be “dangerous to ignore the momentum that has built up in the UK housing market”.
Markit said construction companies continued to take on staff at a strong pace, albeit easing back slightly from March.
A similar survey on Thursday showed surging output and an influx of orders helped British manufacturing activity grow last month at a much faster rate than expected, boding well for Britain’s economic recovery.