The construction PMI rose to 47.2 in March, up from February’s 46.8 – indicating a contraction in the industry for the fifth month running.
The report said that civil engineering was by far the worst performing area of construction activity in March with the fastest pace of contraction since October 2009.
Economists had predicted the index to improve to 47.5 last month, but survey compilers, Markit, blamed the slump on the unusually cold weather combined with sluggish underlying demand – a recurring theme it seems.
Again, the civil sector was the weakest performer this month but there was a much welcome turnaround in the residential sector, which saw house building grow at the fastest rate since May 2012, boosting confidence for the year ahead.
Although making up less than 7% of the UK’s GDP, weak construction output was the main reason the economy contracted in three quarters last year, and so far it has done little to help the economy in early 2013.
With manufacturing output looking equally bleak this quarter, the service sector’s output will prove pivotal as the nation asks: will the UK escape the Triple Dip?