Construction grows at solid pace

Construction industry grew slightly faster than expected last month, a survey showed on Tuesday, in a sign of hope for the overall economy after a slew of weak indicators.

The Markit/CIPS construction purchasing managers' index ticked down to 53.5 points in July from 53.6 points in June, beating analysts' expectations of a dip to 53.0 points.

"Rates of growth for both new orders and activity were solid, but remained below long-run trends" said Markit economist Sarah Bingham. "Furthermore, employment fell for a second month running."

"The subdued level of confidence regarding future business expectations reflects the challenging outlook for the UK economy, and therefore the construction sector," she said.

While commercial construction and civil engineering posted growth on the month, residential construction shrank for a second month running.

The construction industry has been a major drag on economic growth over the winter, despite upbeat PMI surveys, though the sector returned to growth in the second quarter.

Overall the economy barely grew between April and June, hit by a number of one-off factors. Recent surveys have indicated that the start into the third quarter was rather weak, with the manufacturing PMI showing the first contraction in two years.