LONDON (Reuters) - - Britain’s construction sector unexpectedly picked up more speed in November, hitting its strongest levels of output and employment since August 2007, according to a survey of purchasing managers.
A day after a similar survey showed Britain’s manufacturing sector also growing much more quickly than forecasts, Tuesday’s construction data will further buoy finance minister George Osborne who is due to give an update on the government’s economic plans on Thursday.
The Markit/CIPS construction PMI vaulted to 62.6 in November from 59.4 in October. That was much stronger than the median forecast of a slight fall to 59 in a Reuters poll of economists and was well above even the highest prediction in the poll.
“Construction activity continues to spring back to life during the final months of 2013,” said Tim Moore, senior economist with Markit, although he stressed the recovery was coming from a low base.
The building industry was hammered by the financial crisis of 2007-09. Helped by government and Bank of England schemes to encourage mortgage lending, it has been picking up this year. In the third quarter the sector grew by 1.7 percent from the previous three-month period, official data showed last week.
Growth in house-building in November was the fastest in 10 years, Markit said.
Still, Britain is falling far short of the estimated 250,000 new homes a year needed to keep up with population growth.
Markit also said commercial construction increased sharply in November while civil engineering projects remained at the same level of strong growth seen in October.
Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Ruth Pitchford