A vote for calm?

Economic Week In Review | Issue 353 | 31 October 2022

UK construction

  • CE Mark | The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has written to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy secretaries, and Levelling Up, Housing and Communities over the transition from CE quality marking to the new UK CA standard which should happen in January. It has asked for a two-year delay as UK testing capacity has not yet been scaled up to meet demand.
  • Retrofit – skills progress | The CLC’s latest Policy Progress Map shows that the UK has less than 2% of the skilled workers it needs for a residential energy-efficiency drive. Only 506 TrustMark-registered retrofit coordinators were in place in Q3 2022, against a target of 30,000 by 2028. It has called for a national retrofit body to be established.
  • Retrofit – index | The inaugural Global Retrofit Index (compiled by 3Keep for Kingspan) shows that the UK is failing to keep up with its retrofit target required to meet 2050 net zero carbon targets set out in the Paris Agreement.
  • Pauses | Increasing interest rates have encouraged councils to pause schemes, according to a round-up by Construction News.
  • Planning reforms which Liz Truss announced are expected to be dropped by the new Prime Minister. This could mean that the Investment Zones may not materialise.
  • Office space | The BCO is recommending that offices are designed with more space per person to keep up with shifting employment patterns and trends. Its new recommended ratio is 10-12 sqm per person which will help alleviate workplace issues such as noise pollution.

Infrastructure

  • Productivity at HS2 is “lower than planned” according to the new transport secretary, who explained that low productivity and additional design costs have added “£1.1bn extra to the project.
  • Future-proofing | The Joint Committee on National Security Strategy has criticised the “severe dereliction of duty” by government ministers, warning that the UK’s national security is being jeopardised because of failure to prepare infrastructure for extreme weather events
  • Sizewell C | Investment by EDF into the nuclear power station has been formally approved by French government officials.

Materials, commodities and currencies

  • Drive-through concrete | A Danish Company, Fibo Intercon has produced an automated self-service concrete batching plant and is trying to launch it in the UK. It allows for the “recipe”, additives, time, and payment to flex for each batch.
  • Sterling has regained 11% of its value against the dollar after reaching its all-time-low of $1.0327 in September. As the turbulence in British politics settles, the pound is heading for its biggest monthly gain since mid-2020.

UK economy

  • Retail sales volumes rebounded in the month as government support began to help households. However, the CBI stated that retailers continue to face a difficult economic environment with labour shortages, higher interest rates, and increasing costs.
  • House prices | Lloyds expects UK house prices will fall 8% next year and then to stagnate for the next four years.
  • Consumer confidence | Data from the Bank of England shows that mortgage approvals fell in September, and unsecured lending to consumers slowed.
  • Gigafactory | Less than three years after its founding, Britishvolt may enter administration as soon as today. It had planned to build a £3.8bn ‘gigafactory’ in the north-east, with the support of the Boris Johnson government as a way to shift from fossil fuels.

Global economy

  • Emissions | The International Energy Agency says that the increases in global government spending on clean energy in response to the crisis in Ukraine will mark a “historic turning point” in the transition from fossil fuels. It expects that global carbon emissions from energy will peak in 2025.
  • US GDP rebounded 2.6% on an annualised basis in Q3. This was higher than the 2.3% expected by economists and showed that the US is not technically in recession.
  • Shipping | The move towards de-carbonisation has left the market hungry for used ships to recycle. The recycling market has been quiet and there is a scarcity of tonnage in recycling yards as the shipping industry remains busy.
  • Inflation in the Eurozone rose to a record 10.7%, exceeding the estimate of 10.3%. Core inflation (which removes all the volatile elements) also rose to a new high of 5%.

Friday to Friday

Price / Index Week %
change
Annual %
change
FTSE 100 7,047.67 1.12 -2.62
FTSE 250 17,916.67 4.13 -22.46
Nikkei 27,105.20 0.80 -8.34
CSI 300 3,541.33 -5.39 -27.86
S&P 500 3,901.06 3.95 -15.29
Nasdaq 11,102.45 2.24 -28.36
CAC 40 6,273.05 3.94 -8.16
Dax 13,243.33 4.03 -15.59
$ per £ 1.1573 2.49 -15.48
€ per £ 1.1650 1.65 -1.71
Gold £/oz 1,416.16 -2.27 8.75
Brent Oil $/barrel 93.77 0.29 11.13

Weekly Summary

The appointment of a new leader of the Conservative Party and therefore a new Prime Minister should hopefully provide some calm to the UK’s political scene, especially when the Autumn Statement is published in a couple of weeks.

To provide a context to the infrastructure news this week, we should remember that infrastructure work has been a significant driver of construction output growth and has grown in significance, now accounting for nearly a quarter of all output, up from 10% in 2007. Its significance means that we will be keenly watching for news on the infrastructure pipeline from the new Prime Minister.

Author contact

Rachel Coleman
Rachel Coleman,
Associate Research Analyst

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