1. ITV Report

Construction sector slump after disappointing December

Construction contracted in December. Photo: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

The construction sector contracted at its fastest rate in six months in December driven by house building being at its lowest in two years.

The Markit/CIPS Construction Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) - which gives an early indication of output in the sector - fell to 48.7 last month from 49.3 in November. Anything below 50 signals contraction.

Forecasters had predicted a reading of 49.5 but the index is at its lowest since June, when poor weather and extra public bank holidays dented output.

Construction only accounts for 7 per cent of Britain's GDP but its troubles reflect the weakness in the wider property sector.