04 August 2009 | Jake Kanter
Activity in the UK building industry contracted at its slowest rate in 16 months, with commercial and civil engineering work both showing improvements, according to the latest CIPS/Markit UK Construction Purchasing Managers' Index.
In July the PMI recorded 47 - where a figure below 50 represents contraction - compared with 44.5 the month before.
Activity in the commercial and civil engineering sub sectors improved but remained below the 50 mark. Housing contracted at a faster rate, falling to 44.1 last month, compared with 45.4 in June.
The level of new orders and staff numbers also continued to decline, but at a slightly slower rate than in June. Input prices remained low, while future business expectations were still soaring.
CIPS chief executive David Noble said: "Optimism is returning to the UK construction sector on the back of a perceived improvement in economic conditions. Although the current situation still looks very bleak, an upturn looks much closer than it did a few months ago. However, times are still tough as steep competition and difficult market conditions pushed the sector into its 17th month of retrenchment."
Further coverage of PMI reports is available at http://www.supplymanagement.com/EDIT/PMI/pmi.asp