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Construction activity still contracting

ACTIVITY in Britain’s struggling construction sector continued to fall in February but the rate of the decline was one of the weakest during the two-year period of contraction, a leading market survey revealed yesterday.

The CIPS/Markit purchasing managers’ index posted 48.5 during February, which was only fractionally lower than the previous month’s 48.6. This is still below the 50 no-change level that separates expansion from contraction.

The survey showed that the slight decline was as a result of a further marginal decline in new orders. Poor weather conditions and difficulties funding construction work negatively impacted upon new business.

David Noble, chief executive officer at the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply, said: “Although this was a relatively modest rate of contraction, tough operating conditions, dire weather and funding constraints dampened overall sector activity. He added: “Interestingly, widespread concerns that the general election fallout will result in significant spending cuts failed to dent future market expectations,”

Oliver Gilmartin, senior economist at the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors, said: “Conditions remain tough and there are few signs as yet of better balance sheets lifting construction activity or employment.”