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CONSTRUCTION ESTIMATING NEWS (update by every month)

Construction Drags on U.K. Recovery




LONDON—The U.K.'s construction sector picked up in February, but grew at a much slower pace than it did during the same period in 2011 and 2010, official data showed Friday, indicating the sector dragged on the economic recovery in the first quarter and could have tipped the country back into recession.

The Office for National Statistics said that on a non-seasonably adjusted basis, construction output increased 6.1% in February compared with January and fell 4.6% annually.

In February 2011 construction output grew 10.2% on a monthly basis, while in 2010 the increase was 16.3%.

Economists said the modest monthly rise in February 2012 was offset by the steep 12.9% decline in January, which means that even if there is a strong rebound in March, construction is likely to have detracted from economic growth in the first quarter.

The construction industry, which makes up 7.6% of the U.K.'s gross domestic product, is struggling amid the government's austerity measures, which have led to fewer state-sponsored building projects, and by the weak domestic housing market. Friday's figures show new public construction work fell by 23% in February compared with a year earlier, while new private housing increased by just 1.5% annually.

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