April data from IHS Markit/CIPS pointed to a marginal expansion of UK construction output, driven by the fastest rise in house building so far in 2019. Commercial work and civil engineering activity continued to decline, but at slower rates than in March. The forward-looking survey indicators nonetheless remained subdued in April, with new orders falling for the first time since May 2018 and business optimism easing to its lowest since last October. Concerns about the demand outlook resulted in more cautious staff hiring strategies in April, as highlighted by the first fall in workforce numbers since July 2016.
At 50.5 in April, up from 49.7 in March, the headline seasonally adjusted Construction Total Activity Index posted above the neutral 50.0 threshold for the first time since January. The latest reading signalled a modest expansion of overall construction output, which contrasted with the declines seen in each of the previous two months.
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