05 May 2009 | Jake Kanter
Activity in the construction industry showed slight signs of improvement in April, having contracted at a slower rate than in March.
According to the latest CIPS/Markit UK Construction Purchasing Managers' Index, where a figure below 50 represents contraction, activity in the sector was at 38.1 last month, compared with 30.9 in March.
It was still well below the 46.1 registered at the same time last year.
Activity in the three main sub-sectors also showed improvement in April, but all remained below the 50 mark. Civil engineering activity saw the biggest upturn as it rose to 43.6 last month, from 32.5 in March. In April last year it was 48.2.
CIPS director Roy Ayliffe said some of the "darkness" gathered across the construction industry had "lifted slightly", and it could be an indication that the severity of the recession had eased moderately.
Construction employment activity fell last month but was up from the record low posted in March.
There was an improvement in the number of new orders and the quantity of purchases, although both remained below 50.
Input prices continued to fall, but at a slower rate than in March. The report said it reflected poor international demand for commodities.