UK construction growth ebbs away as economy falters: PMI

A construction worker moves barriers at a construction site, with the City of London financial district seen behind, in London, Britain, October 3, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

LONDON, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Growth in Britain's construction industry slowed to a crawl in November as high borrowing costs and the gloomy economic outlook crimped building work, a survey showed on Tuesday.

The S&P Global/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to a three-month low of 50.4 from 53.2 in October, barely above the 50 dividing line between growth and contraction.

A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a reading of 52.0.

The housebuilding sector stagnated, while civil engineering activity deteriorated. The survey's gauge of future activity sank to its lowest level since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, consistent with recession.

"Survey respondents noted that new residential building projects had been curtailed in response to rising interest rates, cancelled sales and worries about the economic outlook," said Tim Moore, economics director at S&P Global, which compiles the survey.

The Bank of England has increased interest rates from 0.1% a year ago to 3% in November, and looks likely to raise them again this month.

With demand fading from the economy, various measures of price pressures from consumers and businesses have started to ease - including in Thursday's survey.

The construction PMI's index of input prices fell in November to its lowest level since January 2021.

The all-sector PMI, which combines Tuesday's construction data with last week's surveys of the manufacturing and services sectors, fell in November to 48.4 from 48.7 in October - its lowest level since January 2021, when most of Britain was in a COVID-19 lockdown.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Toby Chopra

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