Rising volumes of business work and civil engineering exercise helped to offset the steepest decline in residential development output since Could 2020, the month-to-month survey suggests.
The headline S&P International / CIPS UK development buying managers’ index (PMI) scored 51.1 in April, up barely from 50.7 in March and above the impartial 50.0 worth for the third month in a row. Nevertheless, the newest studying signalled solely a marginal total enlargement of development exercise.
Business constructing was the fastest-growing space of the development sector in April (index at 53.9), with enhancing financial situations serving to to spice up purchasers’ willingness to spend. The speed of enlargement was the second-strongest since October 2022, though survey respondents once more cited a development headwind from squeezed shopper budgets and elevated price inflation.
Civil engineering exercise (index at 52.0) additionally picked up in April, supported by resilient pipelines of labor on infrastructure initiatives, the survey discovered.
Home-building was by far the weakest-performing section in April (index at 43.0). The speed of decline for whole residential work was the steepest for almost three years. Survey respondents commented on delays to new home constructing initiatives, alongside constraints on demand from softer market situations and better borrowing prices.
New orders acquired by development corporations elevated for the third consecutive month in April. The speed of enlargement accelerated barely since March and remained sooner than seen on common within the second half of 2022. Larger ranges of recent work had been attributed to resilient shopper demand, particularly for industrial constructing.
Development corporations broadly count on an additional improve in enterprise exercise in the course of the yr forward, however the diploma of confidence edged all the way down to a three-month low. Round 44% of the survey panel forecast an increase in output within the subsequent 12 months, whereas solely 13% count on a fall. Survey respondents principally commented on optimism as a result of resilient shopper demand. Some corporations nonetheless famous issues about subdued housing market exercise, rising rates of interest, and the unsure financial outlook.
Tim Moore, economics director at S&P International Market Intelligence, which compiles the survey, stated: “The development sector stretched out its present section of enlargement to a few months in April, signalling a modest rebound from the downturn seen on the flip of the yr. Business constructing work continued to outperform, helped by stabilising home financial situations and a gradual rebound in enterprise confidence. Civil engineering exercise was additionally a driver of development development throughout April, with rising infrastructure work contributing to the most effective section of enlargement on this section for the reason that first half of 2022.
“Nevertheless, the return to development for UK development output seems worryingly lopsided as residential work decreased for the fifth successive month. Prolonged delays on new housing begins had been reported once more in April, as a result of a substantial headwind from elevated mortgage charges and weak demand. Whereas there have been some indicators of a current stabilisation in market situations, this has but to feed by to development exercise. In reality, the newest discount in residential constructing was the quickest since Could 2020.
“On a extra optimistic be aware, the newest survey illustrated an additional slowdown in enter worth inflation throughout the development sector. Softer price pressures partly mirrored a sustained enchancment in provide chain efficiency, with lead-times for deliveries of merchandise and supplies shortening to the best extent since September 2009.”
John Glen, chief economist on the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Provide (CIPS), stated: “The blended image discovered within the UK development trade in April is consultant of an financial system nonetheless making an attempt to recalibrate after being buffeted by the manifold challenges of political instability, lockdowns and provide chain pressures.
“The expansion within the development of business properties is welcome information, with the avoidance of a recession within the final quarter resulting in purchasers being extra keen to spend. The numerous easing of provide chain disruption, with delays diminished and supplies extra available, additionally helped to alleviate price pressures on the sector.
“Nevertheless, the sharp decline in UK home constructing in April shall be a trigger for concern, because it turns into clear that the current rate of interest rises will proceed to hamper shopper demand for a while to come back. With an additional charge rise anticipated subsequent week there shall be issues that issues will worsen earlier than they get higher for UK home builders.”