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  • February’s Markit/CIPS Construction PMI reported civil engineering activity overtaking residential construction as the fastest growing sector of the industry. The headline index fell to 62.6, down from January’s high of 64.6. This slowing of growth was attributed to disruption from the adverse weather and flooding. Supply chains are being stretched further, with an eighth consecutive fall in sub-contractor availability and a lengthening of vendor lead times. Job creation continued to pick up pace, which was linked by some respondents to robust confidence about the business outlook.
  • The Q1 2014 Construction News Barometer, which surveys senior figures within the top UK construction companies, found that almost half of respondents agree that clients are much more interested in developing schemes compared to a year ago; this was up from just 14% in the Q3 2013 barometer. A growing number of respondents report lack of skills/staff, rising materials prices and rising labour costs as core concerns over the coming 12 months. Nine out of ten respondents cited a lack of skills as one of their greatest concerns.


  • The KMPG/REC employment survey, measuring job placements made by recruiters, rose to 65.2 in February, its highest level since March 2010. Salaries increased at the fastest rate since October 2007, while permanent appointments rose at the fastest rate for almost four years. Permanent employment growth was strongest in the North of England, and demand for temporary staff rose at the fastest pace in the Midlands. Engineering, construction and nursing/care were the sectors seeing strongest demand for new permanent staff. This suggests a strong rate of job expansion, a view supported by February’s Markit/CIPS PMI surveys. A composite index of employment growth across the manufacturing, services and construction surveys recorded the fastest growth since the series began in January 1998.
  • UK average house prices continued to rise in the three months to February according to the Halifax House Price Index. Prices were up by 7.9% compared to a year before, and 2.1% higher than during the three months to November 2013.
  • Growth in UK new car sales continued in February, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, suggesting that consumer spending remains robust. New car registrations were up by 3% compared to February 2013.

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