LONDON May 2 Britain's construction sector
expanded for the 12th straight month in April, albeit at the
slowest rate in six months, a survey showed on Friday.
The Markit/CIPS UK construction PMI eased to 60.8 in April
from 62.5 in March, undercutting expectations for a reading of
62.0 in a Reuters poll of economists.
But the index has now been above the 50 threshold denoting
growth for a full year, with housebuilding the best-performing
construction sector last month.
"Better economic conditions, a surge in house building,
improved access to finance and greater investment spending are
all important tailwinds for UK construction growth this year,"
said Tim Moore, senior economist at survey compiler Markit.
Civil engineering activity slowed sharply, with some firms
reporting an easing in the amount of business coming from flood
relief work earlier in the year, Markit said.
Britain's construction industry, which accounts for just
over 6 percent of the economy, was hit hard by the financial
crisis of 2007-09.
It has been recovering since last year thanks to record-low
interest rates, government programmes to encourage people to buy
new homes and falling unemployment, although new house building
has struggled to keep pace with demand.
"While there looks to have been a further steep upturn in
new house building starts in April, the trend remains well short
of estimated increases in underlying demand each year," said
A lack of supply of new houses has been one factor pushing
up house prices, according to mortgage lender Nationwide, which
said on Thursday that house prices had risen 10.9 percent in the
year to April, the biggest increase since June 2007.
The Bank of England's outgoing chief economist Spencer Dale
said on Wednesday that policymakers "should be nervous" about
the housing market, although he said he did not see signs of a
Markit said construction companies continued to take on
staff at a strong pace, albeit easing back slightly from March.
A similar survey on Thursday showed surging output and an
influx of orders helped British manufacturing activity grow last
month at a much faster rate than expected, boding well for
Britain's economic recovery.
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(Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Hugh Lawson)