• Prior 50.4

UK's construction sector slumped into contraction territory at the end of last year, marking the first fall in activity since August. New orders were seen declining and firms were reported to have cut jobs for the first time since January 2021. This comes as business confidence also turns negative. S&P Global notes that:

"The UK's construction sector registered a relatively poor finish to 2022, with business activity falling into decline following a three-month growth sequence amid the fastest contraction in new work since the initial pandemic period in May 2020. Companies cited weak client demand, driven partly by higher prices amid ongoing inflationary pressures.

"Commercial construction activity remained the only bright spot, though here the rate of growth came close to stalling, with the overall contraction led by a further sharp decline in civil engineering and the first fall in residential construction activity since last July.

"The challenging environment in December was subsequently reflected in pessimism amongst firms towards activity levels over the coming year, with business confidence downbeat for only the sixth time since the survey began in April 1997.

"With the outlook turning negative, staffing levels declined for the first time since the start of 2021 in December. Though panelists primarily attributed the fall to the non-replacement of leavers, the data show that companies are preparing to face significant challenges in the months ahead."