05 January 2004 | Gareth Mytton
The UK construction sector completed its strongest quarter of growth in December, according to the latest PMI figures.
The UK construction activity completed its strongest quarter of growth in December, according to the latest PMI figures.
The headline purchasing managers' index (PMI) - a composite indicator of economic conditions compiled by CIPS and NTC Research - stood at 59.2 in December, well above the 50 figure that indicates no change on the previous month.
Although the PMI slipped slightly on November's 60.5, this took the growth in activity during the final quarter of 2003 to the highest since the second quarter of 2000.
Growth eased for housing (63.7, and still the industry's top performer) and civil engineering (54.8) companies, but commercial activity picked up (57.6), thanks to rising economic confidence.
New orders accelerated at 61, amid anecdotal reports of a more favourable environment for winning new tenders.
Companies took on more staff to increase capacity and their skill-bases, as well as making greater use of subcontractors for the fourteenth month in a row. Their availability declined (47.5) to lead to higher charges (51.7).
Increases cooled in quantity of purchases (54.6) and input prices (57.4). The only item down in price was reinforcement bars, while 11 products rose.