The UK's builders did not have the opportunity to take advantage of the mild lead-up to Christmas, it turns out. Output in the sector showed far bigger drop than expected in November. Not surprisingly, the news sent sterling into a tailspin.
Production fell 0.5 per cent in November, compared with the month before - against forecasts of 0.1 per cent. Compared with the same month in 2014, it fell 1.1 per cent. The month-on-month fall is the biggest since 2013.
New work was the worst offender, falling 0.7 per cent, while repair and maintenance fell 0.2 per cent.
The news caused sterling to plummet against the dollar, falling as low as $1.4342 in early trading, before bounding back slightly to $1.4368 - 0.3 per cent down.
"November’s figures suggest that the construction sector is likely to have made another negative contribution to quarter-on-quarter GDP growth in the fourth quarter confounding hopes that the slowdown in the overall economic recovery in the third quarter was just a blip," said Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
"Construction output would have to grow by 2.6 per cent in December to avoid a drop in the fourth quarter. This seems unlikely, given the recent weakness of construction orders."