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  • The latest ONS figures reported a sharp fall in construction activity, with all work output in August lower than the same month a year earlier for the first time since May 2013 and down 4% from a strong July. However these provisional figures are subject to revisions which have been large in recent months, for example the latest release has upgraded growth in Q2 this year from flat to a 0.7% expansion. Over the three months to August the trend is of continued but  moderating growth. Output rose by 3.3% on the same period a year earlier and by 0.4% on the previous three months; down from 4.8% and 1.1% recorded in the revised figures for July. The numbers point to weakness in commercial and infrastructure work, contrasting with evidence from other industry sources such as the Glenigan Index and Markit PMI survey.  


  • Mace topped September’s contract league table, compiled by Glenigan, due to its capture of the redevelopment of BBC Television Centre in West London. The £2.37 billion of main contracts awarded during September was 11% lower than in August, but up 14% compared to September of last year. Kier retained its place at the head of the annual table for the fifth consecutive month, though Balfour Beatty is snapping close at its heels. 


  • Britain’s town centres lost 964 shops over the first three quarters of this year, according to research by the Local Data Company and PWC. This number of net closures was more than twice the reduction over the whole of 2013. Traditional goods retailers such as clothes and shoe shops are leading the decline, while pound shops, banks and coffee shops saw numbers rise. 
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cut its forecasts for global growth. The organisation is forecasting an expansion of 3.3% worldwide this year, down from 3.7% foreseen in April and equal to the rate seen in 2013. Growth is then expected to pick up to 3.8% in 2015. Their forecast of 3.2% growth for the UK this year contrasts sharply with 0.8% expected for the euro area.
  • Britain’s trade deficit in goods narrowed in August to £9.1bn according to ONS figures, down from £10.4bn in July which was the largest on record.

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