April Construction data has indicated a moderate recovery in construction output following the weather-related disruptions seen during March. House building was the main category of activity to experience robust growth in April.
However, there were signs that underlying demand across the construction sector remained subdued,with total new work rising only marginally in April.
The increase in new business was the first recorded by the PMI survey so far in 2018.
At 52.5 in April, the seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing
Managers’ Index picked up sharply from the 20-month low seen in March (47.0).
The latest reading was the highest since November 2017 and signalled a moderate expansion of overall construction output.
Residential work was by far the best performing category of construction activity in April, with the rate of growth reaching its strongest since May 2017.
Survey respondents widely commented on the resumption of house building activity following snow disruptions in March. Weather-related improvements were also seen for
commercial building and civil engineering activity, with both areas recording a modest return to growth after marked declines in the previous month.
Mirroring the trend for business activity, latest data revealed a renewed rise in new order volumes thoiugh in some cases, construction firms noted that a knock-on impact from unusually bad weather conditions had contributed to delays with sales completions during the latest survey period.
Duncan Brock, Group Director at the Chartered
Institute of Procurement & Supply, said:
“April’s data provides some relief after last month’s weather disruption, especially for the housing sector after a lacklustre few months. However, economic uncertainty and Brexit-related indecision continue to lurk beneath the surface as obstacles to the construction sector’s stability. New orders remain too few and far between, with just a small improvement in the level of extra work reported this month.
“The effects of the previous month’s bad weather were echoed in April as supply chains stayed under the cosh again. Besieged by raw material stock shortages and capacity difficulties, suppliers tried to catch up on their delivery commitments with limited
success. Transportation times were still lengthy for construction materials for projects already in the pipeline.”
He added that:“There were some positives reported by construction firms in April as optimism rose to its highest level since May 2017 and an increase in workforces was
reported in anticipation of a better second quarter of the year. What the sector needs now is more widespread client confidence and big ticket projects to follow suit. House building at least seems to be moving in the right direction, and by achieving its fastest rate of growth since May 2017 it has gone from a laggard to a construction leader again.”