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Construction output down again

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The construction industry continued to shrink in size last month, according to the closely watched Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index

The index, put together by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply in conjunction with Markit, registered a score of 47.2 in March 2013.

This was the fifth month in succession the index had been below the 50 mark that represents parity with the previous month.

The civil engineering sector of the industry contracted at its fastest rate since October 2009, while commercial construction also fell.

Only the residential sector bucked the trend, with a marginal rise in activity.

Despite the gloomy figures, the balance of construction companies forecasted a rise in output over the coming year, mainly based on hopes that capital spending would increase.

CIPS chief executive David Noble said: ‘The construction sector seems to have a spring in its step as confidence hit its highest level in a year.

‘Whether this is a reaction to the government’s efforts to rejuvenate construction or simply an acknowledgement that things could not have been much worse than in February, we will have to wait and see.

‘The latest figures complete the picture of a fairly dismal first quarter, which has admittedly been affected by unusually bad weather, with output and employment down on the last quarter of 2012.’

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