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  • Seasonally adjusted construction output in January was 1.8% higher than December and 5.4% higher than January 2013, with particurly strong rises in repair and maintenance work, according to the ONS. However output in the three months to January was relatively weak, down 1% compared to the period August to October 2013. Quarterly growth in the final quarter of 2013 was revised downwards to a fall of 0.2%, compared to a rise of 0.2% reported in the previous release. This leaves construction output in the full year 2013 up 1.1% on 2012. 
  • RICS has forecast a 30% rise in tender prices over the next five years, compared to an 18% rise in input prices. This will see contractors gradually recover squeezed profit margins. Tender prices in the third quarter of 2013 were 0.8% lower than the previous quarter, but 6.3% higher than the same quarter of 2012 when prices were bottoming out.


  • The UK trade deficit in goods widened to £9.793bn in January, compared to £7.662bn in December, as exports hit their lowest level since June 2012. The overall trade deficit, including services, was £5.89bn over the three months to January 2014, an improvement on the previous three months and the same period of 2012-13. 
  • The UK minimum wage for those aged 21 and over will increase by 3% to £6.50 an hour from October 2014, in line with recommendations from the Low Pay Commission. Rates for those aged 18 to 20 and 16 to 17 will go up by 2%, to £5.13 and £3.79 respectively. The minimum apprentice rate will increase by 1% to £2.73. The increase in the headline minimum wage was the first rise above inflation since 2008, and the commission has signalled further real increases over the next few years as long as the economy continued to improve.
  • The National Institute of Economic and Social Research estimates that UK output grew by 0.8% in the three months to February, up from 0.7% in the three months to January.

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