Britain’s construction sector has suffered its sharpest slowdown for more than a year after housebuilding activity stalled in May, in the latest sign the property market may be coming off the boil.
Construction output dropped 0.8% over the three months to May from the previous three months, the biggest fall since October 2012, according to the Office for National Statistics. The more volatile monthly figures showed that in May alone, construction output dropped 1.1% from April as private housebuilding stagnated but public housebuilding grew.
Construction output in May was up 3.5% on a year earlier, but that was the slowest pace of annual growth for six months.
The latest official numbers contrast somewhat with a poll of businesses published last week that suggested construction activity surged in June. Housebuilding was the main driver as the Markit/CIPS construction PMI rose to a four month high of 62.6 in June from 60 in May, where anything above 50 indicates growth.
Chris Williamson, chief economist at the compilers of that survey, Markit, said the latest official numbers should be interpreted with caution given they may well be revised.
“The data leave us scratching our heads, as surveys and anecdotal evidence from the sector point to booming business conditions. There’s a strong likelihood that either these latest number will get revised higher or that June will see a strong rebound,” he said.
via The Guardian