Civil engineering registers weakest level since early 2013, says IHS Markit survey


Housing was the only sector in the UK construction landscape to buck an otherwise backward trend last month, according to the latest IHS Markit/CIPS Construction PMI.

Recording a score of 48.1, down from 51.1 in August, September’s index figure fell below the ‘no change’ threshold for the first time in 13 months.

Data revealed what IHS Markit labelled a “difficult month” for the industry, as a sustained decline in new work prompted the first reduction in overall business activity since August last year.

The falls in workload were attributed to “fragile confidence and subdued risk appetite among clients”, the researchers said.

Civil engineering activity fell at its steepest rate since early 2013, while the decline in commercial development work was the second sharpest since February 2013.

And while housebuilding activity rose, IHS Markit said growth had slowed to a six-month low, citing fears about future market conditions.

Duncan Brock of the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply said a “dismal picture of construction” had emerged in September, with optimism “in short supply”.

“Respondents pointed to obstructive economic conditions and the Brexit blight of uncertainty, freezing clients into indecision over new projects.

“Even housing, the stalwart of the construction sector stuttered with a dwindling performance but civil engineering was the biggest victim falling to its weakest level for four and a half years,” he added.

And Borck warned: “[It’s unclear] where any major shift in momentum for the sector will come in the next few months.”