According to the report from IHS Markit/CIPS, May PMI data indicated that the UK construction sector remained on a strong recovery path, with output growth reaching its strongest since September 2014. Moreover, new order volumes increased at the fastest pace since the survey began just over 24 years ago. Input cost inflation was also at a survey-record high during May, reflecting a surge in demand for construction materials and severe supply shortages.
At 64.2 in May, up from 61.6 in April, the seasonally adjusted UK Construction PMI Total Activity Index registered above the 50.0 no change value for the fourth consecutive month and signalled the strongest rate of output growth for just under seven years.
House building (index at 66.3) was the best-performing category of construction activity in May, followed by commercial work (64.4). The latest increase in work on commercial projects was the steepest since August 2007, reflecting strong demand conditions following the reopening of customer-facing areas of the UK economy. Civil engineering activity (index at 61.3) also increased sharply during May, although the pace of expansion eased slightly since the previous month.
The latest survey pointed to a rapid upturn in new business across the construction sector. Around 47% of the survey panel reported higher volumes of new work, while only 11% signalled a reduction. Construction companies attributed the surge in order books to strong demand for residential building work and high levels of confidence about the near term economic outlook.
Construction companies remain highly upbeat about their growth prospects for the next 12 months. Around 61% of the survey panel predict a rise in business activity, while just 8% anticipate a decline. Positive sentiment was mostly attributed to resurgent customer demand, alongside optimism about the UK economic outlook following the successful vaccine roll out.
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