Thanks to a strong performance by housebuilders, the UK construction sector performed better last month than at any time in the last two years.
The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply/Markit construction PMI index jumped to 53.1 last month from 48.5 in February, the first time it had been above 50 since February 2008. Any thing below 50 indicates contraction rather than growth.
Incoming new orders increased during March for the first time in four months and only the second time in the past two years.
House-building showed the strongest rise in activity, expanding for the seventh month in a row. Commercial activity grew for the first time since February 2008, however, the civil engineering sub-sector, which is typically more reliant on public spending, contracted.
Construction firms continued to shed jobs in March and concern over cutbacks in government spending meant they were less optimistic than they had been in February.
“Though it’s great to see the UK construction sector turn the corner after two years of relentless contraction, it’s still very early days,” said David Noble, chief executive officer at the CIPS.