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|CONSTRUCTION SUFFERS The construction sector crashed to its worst month in more than a decade in June, providing worrying evidence that Brexit uncertainty is causing further damage. The closely followed purchasing managers index fell to 43.1, its lowest reading since April 2009, when Britain was in the teeth of the financial crisis. Economists had been expecting the index, produced by IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, to improve to 49.3 from a reading of 48.6 in May. Construction accounts for 6% of Britains economy.
HOUSING MARKET House prices rose last month, but growth remains subdued, with the market in London declining for an eighth quarter in a row, according to a closely watched survey. Nationwide Building Society said that prices were up 0.5% on an annual basis in June, compared with 0.6% in the year to May.It is the seventh consecutive month in which growth was below 1%.
MANUFACTURERS HIT BRAKES Activity among manufacturers has sunk to its lowest level in six years as the temporary boost from Brexit stockpiling fades, an influential report has suggested. New orders fell for a third consecutive month and business confidence continued to decline in June, according to the IHS Markit/CIPS manufacturing purchasing managers index. It recorded an overall reading of 48, down from 49.4 in May and the lowest reading since February 2013. Although economists had been anticipating a slowdown in the latest index, the slump was more marked than their forecasts of 49.2.
ONLINE FASHION Growth in online fashion sales has slowed to its lowest rate on record. Year-on-year growth fell to 0.6% in the 12 weeks to June 2, compared with 8% for the same period last year and 6.8% the year before that, new figures from Kanter the market analytics company show.Offline sale continue to outstrip online sales, though at £5.5 billion compared with £2.1 billion. Traditional high street brands such as Marks and Spencer and Matalan have expanded their digital presence to compete with newer online players such as Asos, launched in 2000 and Boohoo, founded in 2006.
RETAIL SALES Retail sales fell at the fastest pace in a decade in the year to June as unreasonably cold weather kept shoppers away from the high street. According to the CBI, retail sales fell to a net balance of -42% in June, with 16% of the surveys 88 respondents reporting that volumes were up but 58% indicating that they were down. The overall figure compared with a reading of -27 in May. A fall in spending on groceries drove the slowdown in retails sales, along with weak performances in hardware and DIY.
CAR INDUSTRY PRESSURES The car industry suffered its worst month in more than six and a half years in May as a sharp slump in demand weighed on production, figures show. Brexit uncertainty, a global trade war and a crackdown on diesel cars have led to a slowdown, according to the latest purchasing managers index for the sector. The PMI reading for May was 43.5 down from 48.9 the previous month. Manufacturers endured the steepest drop in new export orders since April 2009 and cited trade uncertainty as a threat to the business outlook.
GROWING SKILLS SHORTAGE One in five businesses is taking six months to fill skilled roles, the British Chamber of Commerce has warned. The business lobby group has found that half of businesses are taking longer to recruit staff than they did five years ago and has claimed that the system of education and training is neither equipping young people with adequate skills, nor providing clear paths into work.
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE Britain is enjoying record levels of unemployment, which has put added staffing pressures on companies. The unemployment rate is 3.8% and has not been as low since 1974, according to the latest data released by the Office for National Statistics. At 76.1%, the employment rate is at its highest level since records began in 1971.