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  • Construction output in February fell by 2.8% compared to January, according to seasonally adjusted figures from the ONS. The longer term trend remains positive, with output in the three months to February 4.5% higher than a year ago. However the rate of growth has slowed around the turn of the year, with output up 0.3% compared to the previous three month period, with growth still reliant on the public and private housing sectors. The ONS said there was some evidence the slowdown was due to the adverse weather, with some work being put on hold.
  • Holcim and Lafarge have announced plans for a merger that will see them become the world’s biggest cement maker. They expect to sell off around 5 billion euros of assets to other in order to pass antitrust investigations.


  • The IMF upgraded forecasts for UK growth in 2014 to 2.9%, up from 2.4% previously forecast. Growth is then expected to ease to 2.5% in 2015. This is the fastest growth expected in any of the major western economies in 2014. However the UK’s recovery still lags behind comparable economies such as Germany and the US, with GDP only just back to around pre-crisis levels, which it is expected to exceed in the second quarter.
  • The UK deficit in goods trade narrowed in February to £9.1bn, from £9.4 in January, according to the ONS. Exports fell by 1.6% to £23.5bn, the lowest since November 2010. This was offset by a fall in imports, three quarters of which was due to a fall in imports of aircraft and aircraft parts.
  • Shop prices in March were 1.7% lower than a year ago, the fastest fall since 2006, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium. March was the 11th consecutive month that bricks and mortar retailers cut their prices with UK disposable incomes remaining squeezed. 

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