China factory activity held steady in May, index shows

Kazuhiro Nogi | AFP | Getty Images

The Markit/CIPS construction purchasing managers' index rose to 56 from 53.1, its highest level since December 2015. The positive figure means the bloc's economy is enjoying a stable and broad-based recovery, which will be welcomed by policymakers at the European Central Bank.

Tim Moore, Senior Economist at IHS Markit and author of the Markit/CIPS Construction PMI, said: "May's survey data reveals that the United Kingdom construction sector has started to recover strongly from its slow start to 2017".

Manufacturing posted its fastest growth in nearly two years in May as employment surged, a survey showed today. "Last month we outlined our belief that the outlook for Irish manufacturing firms remains positive, supported by the improving global backdrop", Mr O'Sullivan said. The rate of inflation had softened to the slowest in eight months.

The index remained above the 50 threshold that separates expansion from contraction for the ninth consecutive month. Incoming new work rose at the weakest pace since February, with slowdowns evident in the consumer and intermediate goods categories, while capital goods producers recorded a contraction in order books. Furthermore, growth in new order books was also the slowest seen since the current upturn began in July 2016.

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Increased workloads encouraged greater staff recruitment and a marked expansion of input buying across the construction sector.

There were still signs that the Brexit blow to the pound was ramping up manufacturers' costs in May, but the pace of price rises eased off recent highs.

The May result was slightly lower than a preliminary reading of 54.0 but remained comfortably above the 50-point line. The report also recorded solid performances in the civil engineering and commercial building sub-sectors, while output in commercial development rose at the fastest pace since March previous year, even though it remained the weakest performing sector. It reached 58.3, its highest in more than six years high, up from April's 57.9.

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