Housebuilding dip hits construction output

Building site Image copyright Reuters

The number of houses being built in the UK fell during the final three months of 2014, the first such decline for nearly two years.

The 0.2% drop in new home construction compared with a 6.1% increase in the previous quarter.

Overall, total construction output fell by 2.1% in the quarter, the Office for National Statistics said, worse than an initial estimate of a 1.8% contraction.

The UK housing market has been slowing over the past few months.

On Thursday, the latest survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said that the number of new buyers approaching its estate agency members in England and Wales had fallen for the seventh month in a row.

However, a recent survey of the UK construction sector suggested that activity had picked up again in January.

And Howard Archer, an economist at IHS Global Insight, noted that while housebuilding had dipped in the final quarter of 2014, it was still up 18.7% from a year earlier.

"The outlook seems largely decent for the construction sector in 2015, although it will likely expand at a slower rate than in 2014," Mr Archer said.

"Meanwhile, prospects still look relatively bright overall for housebuilding, even if the growth rate is unlikely to regain the heady levels seen earlier in 2014."

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