02 March 2005 | Gareth Mytton
Civil engineering companies enjoyed a rise in activity for the first time this year, according to February's purchasing managers' index (PMI) report.
The total industry PMI - a composite indicator of overall sector conditions, in which 50 indicates no change on the previous month - was 54.2. Despite the robust result, this is the weakest growth in seven months.
The civil engineering activity index rose to 52.6, from 47.4. Although growth was slower in the housing and commercial sectors, both remained well above the 50 mark.
As in manufacturing, input price inflation fell to below 70, the first time since early 2004. But almost half of all builders said input prices had risen, compared with only 4.5 per cent reporting a fall.
Just under 29 per cent of companies said purchasing activity rose on the month before, as the new orders index rose. Suppliers' delivery times lengthened at about the same rate as in January, owing mainly to higher workloads for suppliers.
Builders also used subcontractors more (51.9), while their rates increased.
• Coverage of previous months' UK construction PMI reports is available at http://www.supplymanagement.com/pmi