LONDON (Reuters) – The pace of decline in British construction eased last month but the sector remained a long way from a return to growth as Brexit and election uncertainty continued to weigh, a survey showed on Tuesday.
The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 45.3 from 44.2 in October, a four-month high that was above all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists that had pointed to a reading of 44.5.
Still, the index languished below the 50 threshold for growth for a seventh month running, with all three sub-sectors – housebuilding, commercial and civil engineering – in decline.
The PMI added to a string of underwhelming data ahead of Britain’s Dec. 12 election, although the country’s exit from the European Union, rather than the health of the economy, is the central issue in the campaign.
“UK construction output fell again in November as Brexit uncertainty and the forthcoming general election continued to send a chill breeze across the sector,” said Tim Moore, Economics Associate Director at survey compiler IHS Markit.
Housebuilding has suffered the least from the downturn in 2019 but nonetheless, November marked its longest decline since early 2013, Moore added.
Prospects for a recovery looked muted as a contraction in new construction orders accelerated in November, the PMI showed.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Hugh Lawson)