In this month's tracker, Construction Forecasting and Research reports good and bad results, wpith the civil engineering sector providing much of the positive impetus to the market
March produced another mixed bag of results for construction, although the overall trend was fairly positive. The seasonally adjusted monthly activity balance turned positive after a couple of months of negative results, and improvements were also recorded in the monthly balances for short-term employment and tender price prospects. However, the results for tender enquiries and order books, which were already negative, got worse.

The civil engineering sector revealed impressive improvements in March, with rises in all five main indicator balances compared with February: tender enquiries and employment balances each increased more than 20 percentage points.

In the three months to March, a greater number of firms reported work in hand of six months or more in all sectors, except non-residential.

Quarterly data just released by the DTI shows a 3% rise in new orders in the first quarter of this year compared with the same quarter of 2001 and a 23% increase over the previous quarter. This rise is almost entirely due to a very strong March, with increases in every sector except public housing. The biggest rise was in the infrastructure sector, with new orders totalling well over £1bn in March, more than double their February level. This large increase is believed to be due to a couple of term contracts being let in the water and sewerage sub-sector, thus work relating to these contracts is likely to be spread over many years.

The survey is conducted monthly among some 800 firms throughout the UK and the analysis is broken down by size of firm, sector of the industry and region. The results are weighted to reflect the size of respondents. In addition to the results published in this extract, all of the monthly topics are available by sector, region and size of firm. Quarterly questions also seek information on materials costs, labour costs and work in hand.

Focus on the regions

How are activity levels and order books changing around the UK? The figures give the balance of firms reporting an increase compared those reporting a decrease. Please refer to the table on the left.


Related files/tables