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October 4, 2010    

UK construction activity picks up in September

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by Kay Murchie

The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply(CIPS)/Markit construction PMI index showed activity improved last month, driven by the commercial sector and civil engineering.

However, activity in the housebuilding sector dropped - bringing an end to a year-long period of expansion.

The index edged higher to 53.8 in September, from 52.1 in August - surprising analysts, who had expected a fall to 51.4.

The index also remains above the crucial 50 level, which indicates expansion.

Construction accounts for around 6% of Britain’s economic output.

Meanwhile, the index comes shortly after figures revealed UK manufacturing activity continued to slow in September.

The closely-watched CIPS/Markit manufacturing PMI slid to a 10-month low of 53.4 in September, down from a revised 53.7 in August.

The reading represented the lowest since November 2009 and fell short of expectations of a level of 53.8.

Returning to today’s construction figures, confidence in the sector fell to an 18-month low, due to concerns about the Government’s massive spending cuts, according to a survey of purchasing managers.

David Noble, chief executive of the CIPS, comments: “Whilst the construction sector is still growing, a sharp fall in confidence suggests work in the pipeline may not be so strong.”

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