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  • Official construction new orders volumes for the first quarter of the year declined by 10% compared to the final quarter of 2012 and were 0.2% below the level seen in the first quarter of last year. The decline in orders was overwhelmingly driven by the infrastructure sector, which saw new orders decline by 50% from the final quarter of 2012.
    • The housing sector saw the level of orders remain roughly consistent with what was seen in the final quarter of last year, social housing orders fell 0.3% and private housing orders increased by 0.3% over the same period. However in an encouraging sign total residential orders were at the highest level seen since the first quarter of 2008.
    • In other new work the industrial and commercial sectors both saw the volume of orders increase, industrial up 11% and commercial up 3% compared to the final quarter 2012. Other public sector work also increased by 10% over the same period.
  • Construction activity as measured by the CIPS/Markit Purchasing Managers Index showed that the industry returned to growth in May for the first time since October last year. The headline index registered 50.8, above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction, up from 49.4 in April as residential construction increased at the fastest pace for two years.
    • The rise in overall output was supported by the first improvement in new business volumes for 12 months.
    • The outlook for the next 12 months remained relatively positive with 40% of firms surveyed anticipating a rise in output against 13% anticipating a reduction.
  • House prices as measured by the Halifax index increased by 0.4% in May from April, marking the fourth consecutive month of increase.

UK Economy

  • The service sector as measured by the CIP/Markit Purchasing Managers Index saw the rate of expansion increase in May as the headline index registered 54.9 up from 52.9 in April, both above the 50 mark that separated growth from contraction.
    • Growth in employment was the strongest for three months as further gains in the sector are being anticipated over the summer.
  • The trade deficit in April narrowed to £2.6bn in April from £3.2bn in March, the value of UK exports over the period decreased by 1.3% and the value of UK imports decreased by 2.7% over the same period. 
    • The narrowing in the trade deficit is mainly due to fewer imports from the EU, which are estimated to have declined by £1.3bn from March.

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