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  • The Glenigan Index of project starts recorded an easing in the rate of decline in underlying project starts, with the Index in April 7% lower than a year, compared to the 18% decline in recorded in March. The index recorded a 10% decline in residential projects starts while Non-residential building projects during the three months to April were 12% down on a year ago. In contrast civil engineering project starts were 13% higher.
  • In line with the Glenigan index of project starts, the Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers Index showed that industry activity declined at a slower rate in April; registering 49.4, still below the 50 mark that indicated growth but an improvement on March’s reading 47.2. The April figure marks the highest reading since October 2012.
  • Data from the Bank of England show that mortgage lending in March improved to 53,504 mortgages granted, up from 51,947 in February. Net mortgage lending rose by £430m in March below the average of increase of £600m for the previous six months. 
  • House prices as measured by the Nationwide showed little change in April, posting a 0.1% decline from March, but prices were still 0.9% higher than in April 2012.
  • The Department for Business Innovation and Skills reported in their Monthly Statistics of Building Materials and Components that:
    • The ‘All Work’ Construction Material Price Index fell by 0.3% in the year to March, down from 1.5% in February. 
    • The construction materials experiencing the largest price increases in the year to March were Sand & Gravel including levy (up 9.1%), Sand & Gravel excluding levy (up 6.5%) and Particle Board (up 6.1%). 
    • In the year to March, production of bricks fell by 5.5% and production of blocks rose by 1.6%. 

UK Economy

  • Consumer confidence as measured by the GfK NOP survey fell in April to -27, a drop of one point from March’s reading of -26.
  • Manufacturing as measured by the CIPS/Markit Purchasing Managers Index improved in April to 49.8. This is just below the 50 level above which indicates expansion, up from 48.6 in March.
  • A rise in the UK Service Sector activity as, as measured by the CIPS/Markit Purchasing Managers survey, points to a potential strengthening in UK economic growth during the second quarter. The Service Sector Business Activity Index rose to 52.9 in April from 52.4 during the previous month. The survey has recorded a steady strengthening in service sector growth since the start of the year. 



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