Builders signal August boost for construction

THE CONSTRUCTION sector grew at its fastest rate since September 2007 this August, surging after a feeble start to the year, according to a survey of professionals.

The purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for construction, collated by Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, output is rising at the fastest rate since before the financial crisis pushed the UK into recession.

The headline score rose to 59.1, up from 57 in July. Any number above 50 indicates that the sector is expanding. The figure has been rising since February, and has been indicating growth for the past four months.

Purchasing managers also revealed a strong level of confidence, with 46 per cent expecting a rise in business activity over the next year. Only 10 per cent now think that activity will deteriorate.

Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, commented: “The construction sector really does now seem to be establishing recovery following extended, deep weakness. Of critical importance to the sector going forward is that the economy and housing market activity sustain their recent improvement, and that this increasingly stimulates building work.”

Residential building remained the strongest part of the sector, with output rising faster than at any point in nearly six years.