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Business barometer

ECONOMY

Below are some key data sources on construction performance:

Output

The annual growth rate for construction up to the first quarter of 2004 increased to 7 per cent.The strongest sector was public sector non-housing, but this was supported by growth in house building and across all refurbishment sectors. www. dti. gov. uk n Orders Levels of orders for new work showed signs of perking up in the three months to May, with increases of 9 per cent over the previous three months and 13 per cent over the same period a year ago. But overall orders are down 4 per cent on 12 months earlier.Worst hit is infrastructure work, down by more than a quarter over the past 12 months.

www. dti. gov. uk

House building

The annual rate of house completions in England remained above 140,000 for the last four consecutive quarters, according to the latest Government figures.The building rate is 2.5 per cent higher than a year ago, boosted by the social sector. www. odpm. gov. uk

RICS The latest RICS research for the second quarter shows activity accelerating across the construction sectors, with 30 per cent more chartered quantity surveyors reporting a rise in work over the second quarter, than a fall. www. rics. org

CIPS The latest CIPS survey showed a further strong improvement in levels of construction sector activity in June. Its Construction Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 56.6, from 56.3 in May, to signal a slight acceleration in the rate of growth of activity. www. cips. org

FMB Following a dip in the mood of Britain's local builders late last year, those responding to the FMB's first-quarter 2004 state of trade survey are quite buoyant again. The results show that both workload and employment in the first quarter turned out ahead of what respondents expected last time. The improvement appears to be down mainly to increased private sector activity. www. fmb. org. uk

BSRIA/CIBSE The latest survey of h&v consulting engineers showed a continued improvement in workload and prospects to the highest level for more than two years. There has been a particular turn around in the office sector where more than 60 per cent of consultants expect there to be more work coming through in the next 12 months.

www. bsria. co. uk

Joint Industry Trade Survey Construction enjoyed another strong performance during the first quarter of this year, with building contractors and manufacturers confident of further progress in the year ahead. Contractors enjoyed growth from higher private housing activity and increased government investment.

Infrastructure however struggled. Product manufacturers are seeing a similar pattern with the light side growing strongest.

www. thecc. co. uk, www. constprod. org. uk

CPA The Construction Products Association's latest snapshot survey, taken in June, shows a mixed picture. After a poor April and May orders for materials producers started to pick up. But this below-par performance has both knocked confidence and led to an increase in stock levels. www. constprod. org. uk