UK construction growth slowed April, PMI data suggests

Houses being built A slowdown in construction in the first quarter contributed to the economy's return to recession

Growth in the UK construction sector slowed in April, according to a closely-watched survey.

The Markit/CIPS construction purchasing managers' index came in at 55.8, down from March's 21-month high of 56.7.

Any figure over 50 suggests growth in the sector.

There is particular interest in the sector after its slowdown in the first three months of the year was partly blamed for the economic growth figure that pushed the UK back into recession.

The Office for National Statistics figures said construction had contracted by 3% in the first quarter compared with the previous three months.

That contributed to the overall 0.2% contraction in the economy.

But questions have been asked about how the ONS figures could have found such a decline in the sector when surveys were showing growth.

"On the face of it, this [PMI data] is a pretty encouraging survey that points to clear, decent construction expansion in April," said Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight.

"However, all construction data and surveys have to be taken with a considerable dose of salt at the moment as there are major discrepancies between what the surveys are indicating and what the hard data are showing."

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