While Theresa May has been getting mixed messages about the UK’s trading prospects from world leaders at the G20 Summit in China, post-referendum business sentiment at home seems on the whole to have been picking up.
The latest Markit/CIPS construction data revealed improvement in August, with the industry reporting its slowest pace of decline since the Brexit vote, new orders showing signs of stabilisation and a recovery in business confidence.
Better-than-expected services and manufacturing data alongside a rise in the pound last week added to the sense that sentiment has been shifting, with some analysts now suggesting the Bank of England may have been too pessimistic and therefore too quick to cut interest rates.
Meanwhile, Construction News revealed that the vote for Brexit has not put everyone off investing in UK construction activity, with the exclusive news that American consulting giant Louis Berger, which has a turnover of $1bn (£760m), is relocating its international office from Paris to London to target infrastructure projects here.
Days later, Chinese developer Greenland Group confirmed it was proceeding with plans to build an £800m residential tower in London because it had confidence in both the London economy and its property market.
Publishing results this week, housebuilder Redrow said the vote to leave the EU had not had a significant effect on the market, while even the strongly pro-Remain Berkeley Group said some of the immediate after-effects had died down.
Of course, there are still plenty of doom-laden warnings being issued by some economists and business leaders, but the mood has definitely shifted.
In this, the government has been lucky in many respects – but industry now needs clear signals on policies and priorities to maintain momentum and a more positive outlook.
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