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UK construction growth hits 17-month high amid strong housing demand

Business activity in the U.K. construction sector sharply rebounded in May, growing at its fastest pace since December 2015, according to a new purchasing managers' index, or PMI, released June 2.

Seasonally adjusted construction PMI, compiled by IHS Markit/Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, climbed to a 17-month high of 56.0 in May from 53.1 in April, helped by increased residential work, the best-performing segment in May.

New business intakes picked up in May, with construction firm executives citing resilient demand from the housing sector.

"House building was the key growth driver, with work on residential projects rising at the fastest pace since December 2015," said Tim Moore, senior economist at IHS Markit.

A strong pipeline of infrastructure projects fueled civil engineering, while commercial building growth slowed down as heightened economic uncertainty reportedly held back client spending. Commercial development remained the weakest performing subcategory in May.

Delays in the delivery of construction materials in May lengthened to the greatest extent since March 2015. Meanwhile, overall input prices rose at the slowest pace for seven months.