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  • The ONS reported that the total volume of output in the construction industry in January was 6.3% lower than in December last year, while output of new work was down 7.9% for the same period.
    • New housing output declined sharply; public housing output fell 22% and private housing fell 14% compared to December last year.
    • Infrastructure and other public sector work also both declined from the end of last year, down 6% and 9% respectively.
    • Private sector output was also down, industrial output fell 15% and commercial output was down 1% compared to December.
    • Repair, maintenance and improvement work was also down for the month, falling 3.4% since December. Increases in public sector RM&I were pushed lower by falls from the private sector.
  • In line with the Glenigan index of projects starts the Markit/CIPS PMI also showed that construction activity declined in February. The PMI level of 46.8 was the lowest since October 2009; any reading above 50 indicates expansion for the sector. The detail of the PMI showed that the infrastructure sector saw the largest declines while house building was up during the month.
  • House prices rose 1.9% in the three months to February compared to the three months to November last year.

UK Economy

  • The British Retail Consortium reported that retail sales rose at the fastest pace for three years in February; like for like sales increased by 2.7% compared to a year ago.
  • Output in the services sector, the country’s largest, expanded at the fastest pace for 5 months in February according to the Markit/CIPS PMI. The index rose to 51.8 in February from 51.5 in January, the positive has averted fears of a triple dip recession, for now. When combined with the manufacturing and construction PMI’s Markit estimated that the economy grew by 0.1% in the first three months of the year.

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