Belfast Telegraph

Construction output up for first time in four months

By Staff Reporter

Output in the UK's construction industry grew for the first time in four months in September, following a "swift recovery" in housebuilding.

The closely watched Markit/CIPS construction purchasing managers' index (PMI) hit 52.3 last month, up from 49.2 in August and above economists' expectations of 49.

A reading above 50 indicates growth.

The findings chime with latest figures from the National House Building Council, which showed that there were 954 new home registrations in Northern Ireland between June and August - up 17% on the year before. However, in the year to August, there was a 4% fall in new home registrations, from 2,146 to 2,060.

Last week, Northern Ireland housebuilder Hagan Homes announced it had completed a so-called ghost estate - Scotch Quarter in Carrickfergus - and had sold the development to housing association Habinteg for £2.3m.

The industry's expansion UK-wide is in stark contrast to the sector's slump in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, when activity reached 45.9 in July.

Tim Moore, senior economist at IHS Markit, said: "UK construction companies moved back into expansion mode during September, led by a swift recovery in residential building from the three-and a-half year low recorded in June.

"Resilient housing market conditions and a renewed upturn in civil engineering activity helped to drive an overall improvement in construction output volumes for the first time since the EU referendum."

Activity in the construction industry rose at its fastest pace since March, but was softer than the long running survey average of 54.6, the PMI report stated.

Sector activity was buoyed over the period by the rise in new work for the first time since April, which was driven in part by growing demand from the housing market.

New orders also ended four months of decline to pick up in September, while housing activity growth was the strongest recorded since January.

Overall output was bolstered by a robust performance from civil engineering activity, which grew at its fastest pace since March. However, commercial construction activity recorded its longest period of sustained decline in more than three years.

Sub-contractor employment remained in the doldrums last month, falling at its fastest rate since late 2013, but overall employment levels rose following the growth in new work.

Belfast Telegraph