Latest data released by Markit - 8 April 2021

The downturn in the construction sector eased in March after February was hampered by adverse weather conditions. The slight bounce here is the second-highest reading since the pandemic, trailing only the August report last year.

Commercial activity remains subdued, even though there was some improvement, while housing activity - though the best - continues to post a contraction as well.

Markit notes that:

"Latest PMI data showed much steadier performances across each of the major segments of construction activity in March, following the widespread disruption caused by severe bad weather in February. However, reports from surveyed businesses indicated that the sector continued to be held back by a soft patch in new orders linked to the impact of the pandemic on clients' willingness and ability to invest, with several firms also commenting on delays in planning permissions.

"The business climate is becoming more difficult due to the supply-side issues facing the industry, with shortages across a range of key building products and materials leading to near-record delays in the delivery of inputs. An imbalance of supply and demand pushed up purchase prices at the fastest rate in more than 12-and-a-half years."