13 December 2001
Economic instability sent the construction sector into near stagnation for the first time in nearly three years, according to the latest figures.
The construction purchasing managers' index, compiled by CIPS and NTC Research, fell from 52.2 to 50.9 in November, edging closer to the 50 mark that indicates no change.
The figure marks the weakest expansion of total industry activity in a period of growth that began in February 1999.
Mark Hake, building industry analyst at finance firm Merrill Lynch, said the sector was unlikely to improve for some time.
"The private-sector housing market is likely to slow down next year," he said. "But the expected uptake in infrastructure, which would enable construction to show growth, will not happen until 2003 or 2004."