05 May 2004 | Gareth Mytton
The UK construction industry kept up its recent strong growth in April, according to the latest PMI figures.
Although the headline purchasing managers' index (PMI) - a composite indicator of economic conditions compiled by CIPS and NTC Research - slipped marginally to 57.6, activity rose for the sixty-third consecutive month.
In the housing and commercial sectors, the rise in new orders (down to 58.8) and greater opportunity to win tenders boosted activity levels, at 58.9 and 57.7 respectively. Civil engineering, at 53.7, reported the weakest growth.
About 16 per cent of companies took on more staff, generally to meet rising workloads. Where firms did cut jobs, this was generally through voluntary redundancies.
Another steep rise in quantity of purchases (58.6) reflected the start made by many companies on new contracts. Longer delivery times were generally blamed on demand outstripping supply.
Steel and rebar, in particular, were in short supply, as input prices rose sharply (68.1). Nearly 65 per cent said input costs had risen on the month, while less than 4 per cent said they had fallen.