03 August 2004 | Gareth Mytton
UK builders blamed delays between finishing current projects and starting new work for July's slower growth in the construction industry, according to the latest purchasing managers' index (PMI).
The PMI - a composite indicator of overall sector conditions - was 54.2, well above the 50 figure that indicates no change on the previous month. The new orders index was a healthy 58.1.
Although the housing and commercial activity indices were still high, at 56.2 and 56 respectively, they both fell on the month before. Civil engineering activity fell for the third successive month, at 44.2.
The quantity of purchases index fell marginally, at 54.8, even though more companies had increased their purchasing activity over the month. The increase in suppliers' delivery times was much slower (45.2) on June's figure (37.9).
Input prices rose sharply again, although inflation was below the record increases of the past two months. Twenty-five items rose in price, while only stone and timber were cheaper, as the index slipped to 72.9.
For the first time in just over a year, the availability of subcontractors increased, while their usage rose modestly. Their rates also grew more slowly on the month.