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UK Construction PMI fell below level of 50.0

March data revealed a setback for the UK construction sector following five months of marginal business activity growth. However, survey respondents noted that unusually bad weather conditions had been a key factor behind the drop in construction output, with snow-related disruption having a particularly negative impact on civil engineering projects. Business activity expectations and job creation both picked up in March, which provides a clear signal that construction firms anticipate a rebound in activity during the months ahead.

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UK Unemployment Rate fell to 4.3%

Estimates from the Labour Force Survey show that, between August to October 2017 and November 2017 to January 2018, the number of people in work and the number of unemployed people both increased, but the number of people aged from 16 to 64 not working and not seeking or available to work (economically inactive) decreased. There were 32.25 million people in work, 168,000 more than for August to October 2017 and 402,000 more than for a year earlier. The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 75.3%, higher than for a year earlier (74.6%) and the joint highest since comparable records began in 1971.

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U.K. CPI increased by 2.7%

The Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) 12-month inflation rate was 2.5% in February 2018, down from 2.7% in January 2018. The largest downward contributions to the change in the rate came from transport and food prices, which rose by less than a year ago. Falling prices for accommodation services also had a downward effect. Rising prices for footwear produced the largest, partially offsetting, upward contribution. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) 12-month rate was 2.7% in February 2018, down from 3.0% in January 2018.

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Hammond Tries to Talk Up U.K., But Numbers Don't Back Him

Philip Hammond tried to talk up the U.K. economy, but the numbers don’t back him up. In 2021, when the U.K.’s Brexit transition will have ended, the government’s budget watchdog lowered its growth forecast. What’s more, it looks like the country is going to be paying money to the European Union for decades to come, well into 2060. The U.K. chancellor is in an bind: voters are angry after eight years of austerity but Hammond lacks the resources to be able to significantly relax the pain. At the same time his Conservative Party is deeply divided on how to tackle Brexit, and he falls firmly in the camp of those in the party that fear there is no bright side to quitting the world’s biggest trade bloc.

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