Surging construction sector loses some momentum in March

Peter Spence
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The UK's construction sector is roaring a little less loudly this month.

The latest purchasing managers' index data from Markit shows a sector PMI of 62.5 in March, below last month's 62.6. That's despite economists predicting that we'd see a rise to 63 this month.

Nonetheless, that's a spectacular pace of growth in the sector. Any number above 50 would imply an expansion. The release also shows confidence about the 12-month outlook for construction reaching its highest level since January 2007.

Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit, says that house building has "reclaimed its place as the main driving force behind the resurgent UK construction sector".

A preview of the release from Societe Generale suggested that we'd see better weather conditions result in a higher construction PMI reading this month. February's PMI slipped "largely as a result of heavy rain and the associated flooding in some parts of southern England", said analysts at the French bank.

Yesterday data released by Markit confirmed that the UK's manufacturing sector has grown for 12 consecutive months, although the headline manufacturing reading was a touch weaker than expected. At 53.3, the UK's manufacturing growth remains ahead of other major Eurozone countries.

Tomorrow will see the last of this month's PMI data released, with services and composite indices on the way. Both are expected to show a slightly lower pace of growth in March, with consensus forecasts for tomorrow's composite number currently at 53.2.