UK construction survey shows surprise strength

Builders building a roof
Image caption Construction sentiment jumped in February, while analysts had expected a slight fall

A survey suggests surprising strength in the UK construction industry in February.

The Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for construction rose to 54.3, up from 51.4 in January. Analysts had expected a slight fall.

A reading above 50 implies that the sector is growing.

Strength in the construction industry could help the UK avoid a double-dip recession, after the economy shrank during the last three months of 2011.

A recession is usually defined as two successive quarters of negative growth.

Figures last week confirmed that the UK economy contracted by 0.2% in the fourth quarter of last year.

On Thursday, a separate survey of the manufacturing sector showed growth was held back by rising oil costs, with companies facing prices that were rising at the fastest rate in 19 years.

The Markit/CIPS PMI for manufacturing slipped to 51.2, down from 52 in January.

The price of crude oil has jumped to a three-and-a-half-year high on tensions between Iran and the United States and its allies.

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