The UK construction sector registered a sharp expansion in September as new business grew the most since before the pandemic-induced lockdown, a private survey showed Tuesday.
The IHS Markit/Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply construction Purchasing Managers’ Index rose unexpectedly to 56.8 in September from 54.6 in August.
Any reading above 50 indicates expansion. Economists had forecast the reading to fall to 54.0.
Among three monitored sub-sectors, home building showed the strongest growth in September.
Work undertaken on commercial projects also expanded strongly, increasing at the quickest pace for over two years. Meanwhile, civil engineering activity dropped for the second straight month and at the sharpest rate since May.
New orders increased due to pent-up demand. The latest increase was the strongest since just before the escalation of coronavirus pandemic.
In line with rise in demand, firms raised their purchasing activity at the fastest rate since October 2015.
However, firms reduced employment again in September. However, the rate of workforce contraction slowed to the slowest for seven months. Some panelists mentioned releasing furloughed workers following a restructuring of their operations as the reason for job cuts.
Meanwhile, cost burdens faced by building companies continued to rise. That said, the rate of inflation eased for the first time in six months to the weakest since May.
Looking forward, sentiment towards future activity was the strongest for seven months. Optimism was underpinned by expectations of a sustained rise in new orders.
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