UK construction output falls for fourth month

Workers erecting roof on building Commercial building work and civil engineering both fell in February

Output in the UK construction sector fell again in February, a survey indicates, as the sector suffered its worst month since October 2009.

The Markit/CIPS construction purchasing managers' index fell to 46.8, compared with 48.7 in the previous two months.

A score under 50 indicates contraction. The last time the index was in positive territory was in October last year.

CIPS chief executive David Noble said there was "barely a crumb of comfort" in the figures.

"The marked fall in construction output reflected a return to declining levels of commercial building work and a sharp decrease in civil engineering activity," the surveyors said.

"Commercial construction decreased at the steepest pace for just over three years, while the latest reduction in work on civil engineering projects was the fastest since October 2009."

However, there was also a "marginal" increase in residential house-building activity, for the first time since May last year.

Mr Noble said the figures were "disappointing, to say the least", with the civil engineering performance "particularly worrying".

"Future prospects look dismal too with an accelerated reduction in new orders and although there was a marginal rise in employment, it is difficult to see how this will be sustained."

He added that the sector would be looking to Chancellor George Osborne to help prevent further decline by including measures in his Budget on 20 March.

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