15 April 2004 | Liam O'Brien
Worsening delivery delays and rising input prices are highlighted in the latest CIPS/NTC Research purchasing managers' index report on construction.
Suppliers' delivery times deteriorated for the third consecutive month in March, falling to a new low of 41.6, from February's 45.3, and well below the 50 mark that indicates no change on the previous month.
This was driven by shortages in key materials, such as steel and cement, and companies increasing purchasing quantities for the twenty-eighth consecutive month.
However, the headline purchasing managers' index (PMI) - a composite indicator of economic conditions - showed activity in the sector again grew strongly, at 58.1.
Richard Harding, of NTC Research, said: "There appears to be no immediate end to rising prices and lengthening lead times."
But confidence in the sector was high. "Employers are confident rising levels of new business will continue as they are employing workers at a faster rate - March's employment index stood at 54.2," he said.
The growth in construction was stronger than that seen in the CIPS/Reuters survey of UK manufacturing, where the PMI rose to 53.7.
In the UK services sector, all six broad areas of the industry saw activity rise in March, with the services sector business activity index standing at 58.7.
The buoyant economy made clients willing to place new orders.More on the PMIs:
Sector-wide growth supports services expansion
UK builders see activity rise again