UK construction activity hits highest growth rate in nine months

UK construction activity beat investor expectations to register its highest growth rate in nine months as an improving global outlook boosted commercial projects.

The S&P Global/Cips UK construction purchasing managers’ index, which measures monthly changes in total industry activity, registered 54.6 in February from 48.4 in January, and is the highest index figure since May 2022.

The reading was stronger than the 49.1 forecast in a Reuters poll and above the 50 mark that indicates a majority of businesses reporting an expansion.

Client confidence rose in the commercial segment while work on major infrastructure projects such as the high-speed rail network HS2 contributed to the expansion of civil engineering activity in February.

Business expectations for the year ahead improved from the 31-month low in December.

Tim Moore, economics director at S&P Global Market Intelligence, which compiles the survey said some businesses noted that fading recession fears and an improving global economic outlook had boosted client confidence in the commercial segment.

However, builders noted a fall in residential building work for the third consecutive month in February which they linked to elevated interest rates, he said.

Construction order books expanded for the first time since November 2022 and input price increases were the slowest since November 2020.

In February, about 46 per cent of the survey panel anticipated a rise in construction activity over the year ahead, while only 13 per cent predicted a decline.

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