‘UK construction firms experienced a growth slowdown in March, with the loss of momentum centred on housebuilding.’ – Tim Moore, IHS Markit
The Purchasing Manager’s Index for the British construction sector slipped slightly last month, falling behind analysts’ expectations. IHS Markit reported on Tuesday its UK Construction PMI came in at 52.2, while analysts held expectations for an unchanged reading of 52.5. According to IHS Markit’s report, this drop reflected a slowdown in residential building activity, which offset a revival in both commercial and civil engineering sectors. The data showed a minor change in new business growth, due to consumers’ budget constraints that also slowed hiring and created less demand for raw materials. In addition, companies reported weaker demand for subcontractors’ services and noted that inflationary pressures continued to build in because of expensive imports and rising commodity prices. Nevertheless, construction companies maintained a positive outlook for short-term growth prospects, referring to lower anxiety associated with Brexit and satisfactory macroeconomic data. Stronger consumer confidence also contributed to firms’ optimism, which reached a fifteen-month high. In particular, almost half of the respondents claimed their business activity would likely improve, while 9% of the surveyed expressed strong pessimism on growth .