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September data highlighted an upturn in business activity across the UK construction sector for the first time since May, primarily driven by a recovery in residential building. New orders also rebounded during September, which ended a four-month period of sustained decline.
Survey respondents cited improving confidence among clients and a reduced drag on demand from Brexit-related uncertainty. Reflecting this, construction firms indicated a further recovery in their business expectations for the next 12 months, with optimism the strongest since May. Just under half of the survey panel (45%) forecast a rise in output over the year ahead, while only 9% anticipate a reduction. However, the degree of confidence remained softer than that seen at the start of 2016.
Adjusted for seasonal influences, the Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers' Index® (PMI® ) registered 52.3 in September, up from 49.2 in August and above the 50.0 no-change value for the first time in four months. The latest reading was well above July's seven-year low and indicated the fastest rise in construction output since March. The pace of expansion was nonetheless still softer than the long-run survey average (54.6).
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