04 March 2008 | Jake Kanter
Activity in the construction industry continued to increase in February, but at its slowest rate for 20 months.
According to the latest CIPS/NTC Purchasing Managers' Index report on construction, where a figure above 50 represents growth, activity in the sector registered a figure of 52.4 last month. The figure in January was 53.9.
Activity in the commercial sector slowed compared with the previous month. The index recorded 51.7 in February compared with 54.9 in January. However, activity in civil engineering increased faster, reaching 59.4 compared with 52.9 the month before.
Activity in the housing sector continued to contract, recording a figure of 44.8 compared with 48 in January.
Optimism for the future remained close to January's nine-year low of 64.6, after it increased to 64.7 last month. Increased marketing is expected to drive up future expectations over the next year.
New orders and employment experienced a slowdown in growth in February. New orders reached 52.1, the lowest for more than six years, while employment was 52.4.
Input prices continued to increase, recording a 19-month high of 73. The increase is connected to rising fuel and metal costs.
* Further coverage of PMI reports is available at http://www.supplymanagement.com/pmi