Brexit anxiety blamed as construction growth slows

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Growth in Britain’s construction industry slowed to a near-standstill at the start of the year as Brexit anxiety weighed on demand, according to closely-watched survey data.

Figures for January showed the weakest growth for the sector since it was battered by the “Beast from the East” severe cold weather last March.

The IHS Markit/CIPS UK construction purchasing managers’ index (PMI) gave a reading of 50.6 – on a scale where the 50-mark separates growth from contraction. It was down from 52.8 in December.

Job creation was the weakest since July 2016 – the month after the EU referendum – while residential work grew only modestly and commercial work declined for the first time in 10 months.

Tim Moore, economics associate director at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey, said concerns about the UK economic outlook were continuing to hold back activity.

He said: “Delays to client decision-making on new projects in response to Brexit uncertainty was cited as a key source of anxiety at the start of 2019.”

The survey comes after figures from the manufacturing industry last Friday also pointed to a growth slowdown.

A PMI reading for the dominant services sector, representing four-fifths of output, is due on Tuesday.

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY ITEM Club, said: “The manufacturing and construction PMIs point to the UK economy getting off to a poor start to 2019 amid heightened uncertainties.”

(c) Sky News 2019: Brexit anxiety blamed as construction growth slows

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