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  • The pace of decline in construction activity lessened in March’s CIPS/Markit Construction PMI, the latest index value of 47.2 was still below the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction but an improvement from the February reading of 46.8, a 40-month low.
    • The civils sector was again the worst performing sector in the March index, closely followed by the commercial sector; the residential sector however bucked the trend and showed improvement.
  • House prices as measured by the Halifax house price index were 1.2% higher in the first three months of 2013 compared to the first three months of last year.
    • Data from HMRC showed that sales of houses in February were 10% higher than February 2012.

UK Economy

  • The CIPS/Markit Services PMI showed the sector grew at the fastest pace for seven months in March easing fears of another recessionary period. The headline business activity index measured 52.4 last month up from 51.8 in February; any reading above 50 indicates expansion. 
  • The CIPS/Markit Manufacturing PMI showed that the rate of decline in manufacturing output eased somewhat in March, the headline indicator increased to 48.3 up from 47.9 in February.
  • The Bank of England’s latest credit conditions survey offered further evidence that access to credit is becoming easier for both the household and corporate sectors. The Bank’s Funding for Lending Scheme is widely recognised as the reason for the improvement in credit availability in recent months.
    • The survey reported that the availability of secured credit improved over the quarter and that spreads on mortgage debt tightened; both good news for the housing sector which should see activity increase in light of Help to Buy unveiled at last month’s budget.
    • In the corporate sector it was reported that credit for large and medium sized businesses increased while credit availability for small businesses fell. Demand for credit was also reported to be up for larger companies and down for small businesses.


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