14 November 2002 | Robin Parker
Building suppliers are delivering materials more slowly than at any time in the past two years, the latest data reveals.
According to the CIPS/NTC Research construction purchasing managers' index (PMI), lead-times lengthened at the fastest rate since December 2000.
Lower stocks and shortages of materials, including bricks, windows, steel and stone, were blamed for missing established delivery schedules in October.
The shortages pushed up input costs, which were affected by high oil and fuel prices.
However, the total construction activity index grew to 54.6. This is the forty-fifth successive month the index has been above the 50.1 figure that indicates growth on the previous month.
The greatest increase in activity was in the housing sector.
The findings came as Nationwide, the large mortgage lender, reported the lowest rise in house prices since March.
House prices are still 24 per cent higher than last October, but Nationwide predicted they could slow in the next year.
Purchasing activity also grew marginally in the manufacturing sector and in services industries, in which incoming new business rose at its fastest rate for five months.
Purchasers also reported "aggressive" growth of new orders and contracts, projects, product development and marketing campaigns.