U.K. April Construction Increases 1.2% on Housing, Repairs

U.K. construction output rose in April for the first time in three months, boosted by new housing work and repairs.

The volume of output climbed 1.2 percent from March, when it fell a revised 0.2 percent, the Office for National Statistics said today in London. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists was for a rise of 1.5 percent.

The ONS said construction output grew 1.5 percent in the first quarter instead of the previously calculated 0.6 percent. That may add 0.1 percentage point to gross domestic product, most recently estimated to have grown 0.8 percent in the period. Today’s figures add to evidence that the economy gathered momentum in the second quarter.

The pound stayed higher against the dollar after the report and was trading at $1.6981 as of 9:52 a.m. London time, up 0.3 percent on the day. The currency jumped after Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said yesterday the benchmark rate may rise from its record-low 0.5 percent sooner than investors expect.

The construction sector, which accounts for 6.3 percent of the economy, is 10.3 percent below its peak in the first quarter of 2008. It increased 4.6 percent over the past year amid gains in housing and private-industrial work. The industry shrank by almost a fifth during the financial crisis.

Between January and March, new orders fell by 6.3 percent as demand for public housing slumped 46 percent, the most since records began in 1964. Private-housing orders rose 2.8 percent.

Construction, which was hit by winter floods that forced builders to put projects on hold, contracted 0.1 percent between February and April from the previous three-month period.

In April, new work rose 0.9 percent from March, with private housing climbing 2.5 percent. The sector, which accounts for 16.8 percent of total construction and 34.8 percent of new work, gained 19 percent in the latest three months from a year earlier. Repairs and maintenance rose 1.6 percent on the month.