Brexit latest: Construction activity hits four-month high in April

The PMI rose to 53.1 in the month, up from 52.2 in March

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The Independent Online

UK construction activity rose to a four-month high in April according to the latest survey snapshot of the sector, suggesting a reasonable start to the second quarter of 2017 for builders.

The Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 53.1 in the month, up from 52.2 in March and above City analysts' expectations of 52.

Any reading above 50 indicates growth.

Civil engineering activity was the highest in a year. House building was at its liveliest since last December according to the survey.

The rate of employment growth was the highest since last May 2016.

However, commercial building remained subdued with a lower reading than in March.

"Commercial work likely will remain depressed by Brexit uncertainty, and labour shortages across the entire construction sector may become more acute as immigration from the EU declines," said Samuel Tombs, an economist at Pantheon.

Building holding up

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The construction PMI showed an alarming dip in the immediate wake of last June's Brexit referendum result, but bounced rapidly back.

The latest reading follows a better than expected figure from the manufacturing PMI released on Tuesday.

Construction accounts for around 6 per cent of GDP.

Last week the Office for National Statistics estimated that the building sector grew by 0.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2017, down from a 1 per cent expansion in the final quarter of 2016.

Overall GDP growth is reckoned to have slowed in the first quarter from 0.7 per cent to 0.3 per cent.

The April PMI for services, the dominant sector of the economy, will be released on Thursday.

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