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Financial News: UK Construction Growth Weakest In 3 Months

UK Construction Growth Weakest In 3 Months

01/03/2019 - 08:39:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - British construction sector growth was the weakest in three months in December amid a slower rise in commercial work, survey data from IHS Markit showed on Thursday.

The CIPS Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, fell to 52.8 from 53.4 in November. The latest reading was in line with economists' expectations.

A PMI reading above 50 suggests growth in the construction sector, which has now expanded for nine months in a row.

New order growth was subdued in December, leading to softer output growth. The unusually wet weather had also acted as a brake on construction work, IHS Markit said.

Among the sub-sectors, commercial work grew at the slowest pace since May 2018. Meanwhile, civil engineering activity rose at the fastest pace since May 2017.

Business optimism rose to the highest since last April and was well above the near six-year low seen in October. Morale improved on the hopes of a boost to growth from work on big-ticket transport and energy infrastructure projects in 2019.

Total new business volumes picked up for the seventh successive month, though the rate of expansion slowed since November and was only modest. Heightened political uncertainty encouraged delays to spending decisions among clients, especially in relation to commercial development projects, the survey found.

Employment growth eased from November's three-year peak with some firms reporting that efforts to reduce costs had led to the non-replacement of voluntary leavers. The rate of expansion in sub-contractor usage picked up to the strongest since December 2015.

Input cost inflation was the second-lowest since July 2016, despite ongoing reports that the weak pound had pushed up prices for imported items, IHS Markit said.

"Levels of optimism remained subdued in relation to those recorded by the survey over much of the past six years, largely reflecting concerns that Brexit uncertainty will continue to encourage delays with decision-making, especially on commercial projects," IHS Markit economist Tim Moore said.

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