(Refiles to makes clear house-building is a component of the
wider construction PMI)
LONDON Aug 4 British house-building accelerated
last month at the fastest rate since November 2003, leading to a
record pace of job creation and a shortage of supplies, a survey
showed on Monday.
The monthly Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' index (PMI) for
the wider construction sector, which also includes commercial
building and civil engineering, fell to 62.4 in July from 62.6
in June - just above the Reuters poll forecast of 62.0.
Readings above 50 denote expansion.
House-building was the strongest performing category in the
PMI as construction activity grew for the 15th successive month,
with hiring accelerating at the fastest rate since at least
April 1997 when the survey began.
Respondents attributed rising job numbers to increased
workloads and efforts to boost capacity, as well as some
concerns about sub-contractor availability, which fell for the
13th month running.
The Bank of England has said that a shortage of new homes is
the underlying reason for Britain's fast-rising house prices,
which have increased by around 10 percent in the past year, and
almost double that in London, according to some surveys.
Markit said there was strong demand for construction
materials in July, placing additional pressure on suppliers and
reflected by a sharp rise in vendors' delivery times.
Respondents noted low stocks and capacity shortages at
suppliers and average cost burdens increased in turn over the
month, with growth in input prices easing only a little from
June's six-month high.
But higher levels of overall construction output were
supported by further steep improvement in new business intakes.
New orders increased each month since May 2013, which
respondents linked in July to greater confidence among clients.
Civil engineering activity growth also speeded up, although
commercial real estate development grew at a slower rate than
last month, pulling the rate of growth in overall activity below
the level seen in June.
The equivalent manufacturing survey last week pointed to
slowing growth, driving sterling to a seven-week low against the
dollar. Some investors saw that as weighing against an early
rate hike by the Bank of England, whose policymakers meet on
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(Reporting by Tess Little, editing by Catherine Evans)