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Sharp rise in construction purchasing

March 2020

In February, construction buyers reported the sharpest rise in output since December 2018, as housing and commercial work underpinned a rebound in activity, states a new report in http://www.constructionmanagermagazine.com.  However the spectre of a full-blown coronavirus outbreak could yet prove to be the “fly in the ointment” when it comes to further growth.

The latest IHS Markit/CIPS UK construction purchasing managers’ index recorded a return to business activity growth in February following a nine-month period of declining workloads.

The index registered a score of 52.6 in February, up from 48.4 in January.  The latest reading also indicated the fastest rate of construction output growth for 14 months.

Residential activity was the best-performing construction category, with the strongest expansion of housing activity since July 2018.  Commercial work also posted its fastest increase in business since November 2018.  Meanwhile, civil engineering experienced a “marginal” rate of decline during the month.

The index also recorded a “strong” recovery in new orders across construction, with the increase in new work the steepest for just over four years, with respondents citing a boost from increased infrastructure contract awards, including those related to HS2.

Tim Moore, Director at IHS Markit, said: “February's survey data adds to signs that the UK construction sector has started to rebound after a downturn through the second half of last year.  Growth of business activity was stronger than at any time since the end of 2018, supported by the fastest rise in new orders for just over four years. Some construction firms suggested that the recovery in output would have been even stronger had there not been disruptions on site from severe weather conditions in February.”

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