20 January 2005 | David Arminas
The construction sector had its most marked growth for eight months in December, according to the CIPS/NTC Research purchasing managers' index (PMI).
It registered 57.2, up from 56.7 in November. This remains above the critical 50 mark, the figure indicating no change on the previous month.
New orders were up for the seventy-fourth month running. Commercial builders posted the sharpest rise in activity, with the fastest growth for 57 months.
Housing grew at a strong rate, but civil engineering contracted for the first time in four months, although only marginally.
In services, the CIPS/NTC Research business activity index was buoyant, despite falling from 56.7 in November to 54.9.
Some services companies said clients had deferred placing new contracts until 2005.
Manufacturing, too, recorded a decline to 53.7 from 55, suggesting a slower rate of growth.
But purchasing managers in manufacturing said strengthening new business orders, especially export orders for Europe and the Far East, continued to ensure a healthy growth rate.