Construction sector slowdown reported after freezing March

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Activity in the UK construction sector slowed up going into April, according to the latest IHS Markit Construction Purchasing Managers Index.

March snow disruption contributed to the fastest drop in construction activity since July 2016.

Markit said its construction purchasing managers’ index fell to 47.0 in March, compared to forecasts for a reading of 50.9. On the index, a reading above 50.0 indicates expansion, below indicates contraction. The prior month’s reading was 51.4.

Civil engineering work declined at the sharpest pace in five years while input cost inflation moderated to what proved in fact to be a 20-month low.

The construction sector continued to experience subdued business conditions during March, but snow-related disruption was a key factor behind the marked decline in activity on site reported by survey respondents,” IHS Markit associate director Tim Moore said.

He added that a solid rise in employment numbers and the rebound in business expectations to a nine-month high provided an indication that construction activity will strengthen over the near-term.

However, survey respondents noted that underlying demand remains constrained by heightened economic uncertainty and risk aversion among clients,” he warned.

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