Output in Britain’s construction industry made a surprise rebound last month, as a jump in housebuilding helped drive overall activity to a 17-month high.
The closely watched Markit/CIPS UK Construction purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose to 56.0 in May, up from 53.1 in April and above economists’ expectations of 52.6.
A reading above 50 indicates growth.
Housebuilding had a stand out performance over the period, expanding at its fastest pace since December 2015 and bouncing back from a seven-month low in March.
New business was also motoring ahead, clocking its fastest expansion so far this year, while the number of new jobs accelerated for the second month on the bounce to its strongest level since January 2016.
Tim Moore, IHS Markit senior economist, said the construction sector was recovering strongly after a sluggish start to 2017.
“House building was the key growth driver, with work on residential projects rising at the fastest pace since December 2015,” he said.
“A sustained rebound in residential building provides an encouraging sign that the recent soft patch for property values has not deterred new housing supply.
“Instead, strong labour market conditions, resilient demand and ultra-low mortgage rates appear to have helped boost work on residential development projects in May.”