Q1 is through, and the Bank of Englands’ Agents’ results summarise a mixed bag from robust growth in goods exports having tightened capacity, improving profit margins and strengthened investment intentions to evidence of financial distress in retail and leisure.
The mortgage market has remained highly competitive with activity dominated by remortgaging in anticipation of further interest rate rises. The lack of stock in the secondary market was depressing demand by limiting choice for prospective buyers in the housing market. The rental market remained strong, stimulating further investment in build-to-rent, especially in cities such as Manchester and Birmingham, where rents were steadily rising.
Construction output slowed further, output from smaller builders was increasing; although there were a few reports of supply side constraints biting on activity. Commercial real estate capacity tightened along with a modest rise in demand from investors whilst, in response to the shift towards online retail, valuations on distribution sheds and warehouses continued to increase.
Companies contributing to the report were asked about the amount of time they are spending on preparing for Brexit – how many hours a week, on average, the CEO and CFO are currently spending on this – around 40% are spending no time and 40% are spending no more than one hour a week.