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UK construction sector contracts for first time in 6 months

Staff Writer |
UK construction activity contracted unexpectedly in March following five months of marginal growth, survey data from IHS Markit showed.

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The IHS Markit/Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply construction Purchasing Managers' Index fell to 47.0 in March from 51.4 in February. The reading was expected to ease to 51.0.

The score fell below the 50.0 no-change threshold for the first time in six months. Moreover, the latest reading signaled the fastest decline in construction output since July 2016.

Unusually bad weather conditions had been a key factor behind the drop in construction output. Business activity expectations and job creation both picked up in March, which provides a clear signal that construction firms anticipate a rebound in activity during the months ahead.

The overall reduction in construction output was driven by the sharpest drop in civil engineering work for five years. Commercial activity also decreased in March.

Housing bucked the wider trend for construction activity in March, although the latest upturn in residential building was only marginal.

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