UK Construction PMI Falls in December as Brexit Uncertainty Weighs

People work on a construction site to build a new apartment building in Los Angeles, California February 6, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson – Activity in the UK construction sector slowed last month as political uncertainty from Brexit weighed, according to a closely watched business survey released on Thursday.

Research firm IHS Markit said its construction purchasing managers’ index fell to 52.8 in December, compared to forecasts for a reading of 52.9.

The prior month’s reading was 53.4.

On the index, a reading above 50.0 indicates expansion, below indicates contraction.

“UK construction firms signaled a slowdown in housing and commercial activity growth during December, which more than offset a strong performance for civil engineering at the end of 2018. Subdued domestic economic conditions and an intense headwind from political uncertainty resulted in the weakest upturn in commercial work for seven months,” IHS Markit associate director Tim Moore commented in the report.

Moore noted that a boost in transport and energy projects helped push business optimism to an eight-month high in December, but was cautious as the UK’s departure from the European Union in March looms closer.

“Levels of optimism remained subdued in relation to those recorded by the survey over much of the past six years, largely reflecting concerns that Brexit uncertainty will continue to encourage delays with decision-making, especially on commercial projects,” Moore concluded.