The orders and tender enquiries indices continue to fluctuate, and both dropped slightly in March following increases in February. However, as both indices remain above 50*, this suggests that orders and tender enquiries remain on an upward trajectory.
Construction firms were more optimistic about future tender prices in March than in February. The tender price index rose to 63 in March and the smoothed index (trend) – which has been declining since September – stabilised, suggesting that tender prices will continue to rise at their current rate.
However, according to CFR's Leading Construction Activity Indicator, which incorporates a range of factors to assess the construction industry's prospects every quarter, expansion is expected to slow over the next few months. Although activity levels in the industry will continue to rise, the activity indicator, which registered 55 in March, is set to fall to 53 in May, signifying a further moderation in the rate of growth, which has been in evidence since October.
The moderation in expectations for the industry over the next quarter reflects the slowing in the rate of expansion in orders and tender enquiries. This is particularly prominent in the civil engineering sector, where last year's surge in activity appears to have subsided.
The survey is conducted monthly among some 800 firms throughout the United Kingdom 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. On top of this, quarterly questions seek information on materials costs, labour costs and work in hand.
This an extract from the monthly Focus survey of construction activity undertaken by Construction Forecasting and Research on behalf of the European Commission as part of its suite of harmonised EU business surveys. The full survey results and further information on CFR's forecasts and services can be obtained from CFR; telephone: 020-7808 7070; or visit the website at www.constructionfutures.co.uk