Construction buyers have reported a deepening downturn in the industry as the Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to a six month low last month.
The index – which measures overall output in the sector – fell to 48.7 in December from 49.3 in November.
Any figure below 50 represents a contraction in the market.
The index has now posted below 50 in four of the past five months and the latest reading indicated the fastest rate of contraction since June 2012.
David Noble, Chief Executive Officer at the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply, said: “Confidence in the construction sector is now lower than the four year post-recession average, reflecting the poor performance of the sector in the final month of 2012.
“December witnessed the fastest decline in output in six months and a huge drop in new business, signalling trouble for the year ahead.
“Construction in housing is particularly desperate having experienced the fastest decline in two years, with the current period of contraction now lasting seven months in a row.
“Commercial housing activity has also continued to fall, albeit at a slower rate, leaving civil engineering as the only sector recording growth in the industry.
“Continued increases in business costs, alongside low stocks at suppliers and longer delivery times complete a depressing picture for the construction sector going into 2013, making it hard to see where a change in fortunes might come from.”