02 12 2014

British construction activity expanded at the slowest pace in more than a year last month, with order books filling at the slowest pace since June 2013 and optimism waning, a survey showed on Tuesday.

The Markit/CIPS construction PMI fell to 59.4 in November, its weakest reading since October last year, down from 61.4 in October. While falling short of economists' expectations for a slight decline to 61.0, the index was comfortably above the 50 threshold for growth, as well as its long-run average of 54.5.

Still, optimism about the year to come fell to its lowest level since October 2013.

"A less favourable overall economic news-flow was cited as the key factor dampening otherwise buoyant demand patterns across the UK construction sector," said Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit.

"However, some construction companies noted that uncertainties ahead of next year's general election had weighed on business confidence and influenced clients' willingness to commit to new projects."

The slowdown in growth was most pronounced in the civil engineering sector, which relies heavily on major government-backed infrastructure projects.

The survey comes a day before British finance minister George Osborne gives his half-yearly budget update.

While he has little room to loosen the purse strings, Osborne will likely unveil more details about spending commitments on infrastructure. On Monday the government fleshed out 15 billion pounds ($24 billion) of new road schemes across Britain.

November's slowdown in civil engineering came despite a surge in government investment spending in the third quarter of 2014, according to official growth data released last week.

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