March Construction Sector PMI Reading
47.2, up from February's 46.8.
- Output decline slows from February's 40-month low
- Housing activity remains best performing subsector
- Steep drop in civil engineering output
- New orders decline at slowest pace since October 2012
- Staffing levels decrease marginally
- Positive sentiment highest for 11 months
"Shrinking investment spending and intermittent output disruptions amid unusually bad weather kept the UK Construction PMI entrenched in contraction territory at the end of the first quarter," said Tim Moore, Senior Economist at Markit and author of the Markit/CIPS Construction PMI.
"The negative print for construction output mirrors that seen for manufacturing, and now leaves the service sector as the last great hope for avoiding another slide in UK GDP.
"Concerns that the UK economy is teetering on the brink of a triple-dip have undoubtedly weighed on client spending this year, but at least some pockets of optimism for the construction sector can be drawn from the latest survey. Signs of rising housing activity were the main positive development, while March also saw the slowest drop in construction new orders for five months.
"Construction companies are upbeat overall about their own prospects for output growth over the year ahead, particularly in respect of the residential building sector. However, a renewed drop in employment numbers during March highlights that a lack of new work to replace completed projects is the dominant concern within the UK construction sector."
It is another negative for the construction sector, and another negative PMI reading in general from the UK economy. It was the construction sector's sharply declining output that dragged the economy into its longest double-dip recession since the Second World War and the government has focused efforts on stimulating activity among building firms, through infrastructure investment and credit easing for the mortgage market.
Now all hope lies with the service sector, which represents around three quarters of GDP, to ensure the country does not slip into a triple-dip recession in the first quarter.
Purchasing managers index (PMI) surveys are carried out by Markit Economics and the Chartered Institute for Purchase & Supply (CIPS).
Each month purchasing managers across private UK firms are surveyed to give an indication of business activity in the service, manufacturing and construction sectors.
On the index, neutral output activity is 50.
Any reading above represents expansion, while under signifies contraction.