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Slowest rate of housing growth for two years hits activity in November

Construction activity recorded a slowdown in November as the rate of housing output growth hit a two-year low.

Data from the Markit/CIPS Construction PMI suggested industry activity dipped to its slowest rate of growth for seven months.

The index level for November stood at 55.3, down from 58.8 in October but still well ahead of the 50.0 ‘no change’ level.

This decline was largely driven by a slowdown in housing activity, which grew at its slowest rate since June 2013.

Civil engineering activity also recorded sluggish growth, with output rising at its slowest pace for six months.

Commercial activity was the best performing category in terms of activity, replacing housing, but the pace of growth was still lower than the highs reported in October.

Respondents to the PMI cited a lack of new projects to replace completed work during November as a crucial factor hindering activity growth, but nevertheless noted that workloads were continuing to rise.

The decline in activity had a knock-on effect on staffing, with employment numbers growing at their weakest rate since September 2013.

Subcontractor usage continued to rise, but the average value of subcontractor rates grew at its slowest pace for nearly two years.

Despite this, firms were upbeat about their business outlook, with 55 per cent forecasting a rise in output over the year ahead and only 5 per cent anticipating a decline, meaning business sentiment remains well above the post-crisis average.

Commenting on the data, Markit senior economist Tim Moore said: “The UK construction recovery is down but not out, according to November’s survey data.

“Aside from a pre-election growth slowdown in April, the latest expansion of construction activity was the weakest for almost two-and-a-half years amid a sharp loss of housebuilding momentum.

“Overall the latest results suggest that construction companies have become a little more cautious towards year-end, especially in terms of job hiring.

“However, a healthy flow of new tenders from public and private sector clients is expected to provide a tailwind to growth heading into 2016.”

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