Business

Housebuilding boosts UK construction sector again in April

House construction
Image caption Construction output has expanded for the 12th month in a row

The UK's construction sector grew for the 12th month in a row in April, but at the slowest rate in six months, a survey has indicated.

The Markit construction Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) eased to 60.8 in April from 62.5 in March.

But the index has now been above the 50 threshold, which indicates growth, for a full year.

Residential housebuilding was the best-performing sub-sector again last month.

Markit said construction companies continued to take on staff at a strong pace, although the rate of hiring eased back slightly from the previous month.

Civil engineering activity slowed sharply, with some firms reporting an easing in the amount of business coming from flood relief work earlier in the year, Markit said.

The construction index comes a day after a survey of the manufacturing sector, which showed an influx of orders helped manufacturing activity grow last month at a much faster rate than expected.

Markit will publish its index for the the UK's dominant services sector on Monday.

Last week, official figures showed the UK economy grew by 0.8% in the three months to the end of March.

'Well positioned'

The construction industry, which accounts for just over 6% of the economy, has been recovering in the past year as government schemes to help people get onto the property ladder, such as Help to Buy, have boosted demand for new homes.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said while construction industry growth eased in April, the growth figure was still "very strong" adding the sector looked "well positioned for much improved expansion in the second quarter".

He added: "Improving house building is particularly welcome news given that a shortage of properties is a major factor repeatedly putting upward pressure on UK house prices.

"Nevertheless, the fact remains that there needs to be extended, very strong house building to make significant inroads into the problem."

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