Construction output improves

A survey revealed that the UK has seen its strongest upturn in construction sector output since September 2007, with Markit CIPS Construction Purchasing Managers Index reporting that March became the second consecutive month of acceleration.

The firm posted 56.7 for last month, up from 54.3 in February. Furthermore, growth has been reported across all three monitored construction categories which are housing, commercial and civil engineering.

Markit chief economist Chris Williamson said: “The good weather appears to have led to a surge in demand for construction projects in March, adding to the recent flow of good news which suggests the economy will have skirted a recession.

“Construction companies reported the largest monthly rise in new orders for four-and-a-half years, driving building activity higher at the fastest rate since mid-2010. Coupled with increasing activity recorded in the first two months of the year, this bodes well for the sector’s contribution to overall growth of the economy in the first quarter and will raise hopes that the country has avoided a slide back into recession.

“Looking ahead, the lack of big new projects such as Crossrail and the Olympics means expectations about the year ahead continued to run well below the pre-crisis peaks, but business confidence nevertheless reached the highest for nearly two years, driven up by expectations of increases in new order intakes and improving client optimism.

“The particularly encouraging news is that the improvement in confidence is generating more jobs, with employment rising modestly.”

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