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Last week the ONS revised its estimate of construction activity for the fourth quarter of 2012, up from 0.3% growth from the third quarter to 0.9% growth. The better than expected news comes at a time when many sectors are experiencing falls in construction activity, and the official numbers still conclude that overall output is down 9% compared to the same period of 2011.

Highlights of the release mirror trends that have been picked up in Glenigan data over the last year. New private housing work for example was up 6% compared to the third quarter of the year; Glenigan starts data showed the private housing sector to be one of the strongest performing sectors for 2012. The private housing sector also saw a further strengthening of starts in the final months of last year, suggesting that output for the sector will continue to grow as starts move to become completions further into 2013. The sector continues to benefit from Government measures to promote activity.

The official numbers also showed that new infrastructure output was up by 4% in the final quarter of last year compared to the third, however compared to the same period last year it was down by 6%. The one sector that did show growth compared to the same period last year was the industrial sector, output of new work was up 2.5% compared to the third quarter and over 5% higher than the final quarter of 2011. The industrial sector is another area that showed particular strength in Glenigan’s data, starts were up over 30% in 2012, driven in a large part by demand for warehousing and logistics premises rather than traditional manufacturing businesses.

These increases in output were however offset by falls across a number of other sectors. In particular, public non-housing work was 5% down on the third quarter as the falls seen in government funded project starts during the 2012 translated into a decline on work on site. Private housing RM&I also fell by 5% over the period, reflecting the continued fragility of consumer confidence and the weak level of residential property transactions which is having a knock-on effect upon house move related improvement works.


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