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UK construction sector upbeat despite Brexit

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The UK construction sector remains sanguine about the risks posed by Brexit. According to the latest Market/CIPS UK Construction Purchase Maangers’ Index (PMI), optimism regarding year-ahead business picked up to its second highest level since December 2015 on reduced Brexit-related anxiety and a resilient economy backdrop.

Despite a slight slowdown in growth in the sector, more than half of the survey panel expected business activity to rise during the year ahead, against only 9% that forecast a decline.

Civil engineering – boosted by rising infrastructure spending and a strong pipeline of new work – was the sectors main growth engine in March, after activity in the residential housebulilding sector tailed off. Commercial construction activity also showed a slight rebound.

“Survey respondents noted that the resilient economic backdrop and receding Brexit-related anxieties have helped to stabilize client demand after the disruption to development projects last summer,” said Tim Moore, Senior Economist at IHS Markit and author of the Markit/CIPS Construction PMI.

There was also a warning against complacency in the sector with Duncan Brook, Director of Customer Relationships and CIPS saying the sector must watch the Brexit negotiations carefully, following the triggering of exit procedures in late March.

“Now the trigger has been pulled to propel the UK out of the EU, the construction sector must keep an attentive eye on how the UK government’s negotiations will play out and whether consumer and business caution returns to hamper further progress,” Brock said.

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