February saw the slowest rise in overall construction output since April 2015 and a slow down in the housing sector and a reduction in jobs growth according to the latest Markit/CIPS UK Construction PMI survey.
February data highlighted a further loss of growth momentum across the UK construction sector, with output, new orders and employment all expanding at slower rates than at the start of 2016.
The headline seasonally adjusted Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) of 54.2 in February, was down from 55.0 in January and the lowest since April 2015.
For the first time since January 2013, residential building was the worst performing sub-category of construction output. Moreover, the latest rise in housing activity was the slowest recorded since June
Growth of commercial building work also eased, with the rate of expansion the softest since the election-related slowdown in May 2015.
Reports from survey respondents suggested that less favourable demand conditions and greater uncertainty about the economic outlook continued to act as a brake on the construction sector. Reflecting this, new business growth moderated for the third time in the past four months during February. The latest rise in overall volumes of new work was the slowest seen since April 2015.
Softer output and new business growth resulted in weaker job creation across the UK construction sector during February. The latest rise in staffing levels was the slowest recorded since August 2013. Anecdotal evidence suggested that heightened uncertainty about the demand outlook had led to more subdued job hiring trends in February.
Input cost inflation moderated in February and was close to its lowest seen over the past three years. Survey respondents noted that lower fuel and steel prices had helped to bring down overall cost inflation at their units.
Tim Moore, Senior Economist at Markit and author of the Markit/CIPS Construction PMI, said: “UK construction firms remained in expansion mode during February, but a loss of momentum within the residential building sector meant that overall output growth was the weakest since April 2015.
“Survey respondents noted that underlying business conditions remained favourable, especially in relation to commercial building and infrastructure-related work, but some clients had been hesitant to commit to new projects so far in 2016.
David Noble, group chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, said: “The housing sector, which once led the way with a robust performance, offered a poor show – the weakest growth for just over two-and-a-half years.
“And, though overall growth was maintained, business confidence for the future was at its lowest since December 2014. The next few months will be critical to the understanding of whether this dampened optimism was justified and whether there are still more serious issues to be unearthed.”