Construction activity weakest since December

Construction activity expanded last month at its weakest pace since December due to a slowdown in orders and output growth, as well as a less positive outlook, a survey of purchasing managers showed.

The Markit/CIPS construction PMI fell in line with economists' expectations to 52.6 in August from 53.5 in July, still above the 50-mark that separates growth from contraction but the lowest reading this year.

"August data signalled slower growth of both output and new orders as headwinds caused by uncertain economic conditions impacted on sector performance," said the survey's author, Sarah Bingham, an economist at research company Markit.

"Confidence regarding future business expectations weakened to an eight-month low, highlighting concerns in respect of further potential cuts in government spending, but also a dampening of wider business sentiment," she added.

The slowdown in construction growth follows a companion PMI survey on Thursday which showed the biggest fall in manufacturing activity in more than two years.

House building contracted for a third consecutive month, civil engineering slowed while commercial construction rose to a three-month high, albeit one that is below the series' long-run average.