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Environment secretary John Gummer admitted that construction's recovery was 'uncertain' last week, after studying the first state-of-trade report jointly sponsored by the industry and Department of the Environment.Sir Brian Hill, chairman of the Construction Industry Employers Council, and Ian Dixon, chairman of the Construction Industry Council - which represents professional bodies - presented the first of the new six-monthly reports, designed to forge a closer relationship between the Department of Environment and construction.Mr Gummer said: 'A modest increase in the overall volume of output is expected, but the timing and strength of the recovery is uncertain.'The report says the housing recoveryis fragile and could be hit by a fall in consumer confidence. It warns that public spending cuts could dampen the recovery.The longer-term outlook now depends on how successful the private finance initiative is at getting funding for developments. It warns that development finance could be elusive because banks are committed to the property sector and institutional investors are turning away from speculative ventures. CONSTRUCTION NEWS