Britain’s New-Start Construction Off

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LONDON, Sept. 2 (UPI) — New construction orders in Britain were down for the second quarter, led by cuts to school construction and a static house-building market, officials said.

The Office for National Statistics reported new orders were 16.3 percent lower in the second quarter and 23.2 percent lower than in the same period last year, The Guardian reported Friday.

Experts said the fall was based in part on cuts to government school-building and other infrastructure projects. However, economists said private-sector housing starts were quiet and construction of retail outlets and shopping centers had ground to a near halt.

The Guardian said areas in the south and west absorbed the hardest hits.

A survey of construction industry purchasing managers found employment was down for the third straight month. The survey indicated the construction sector was expanding slowly but with lower margins and confidence.

Howard Archer, chief British economist at IHS Global Insight, said information was a double dose of bad news for the construction industry, still slumping because of the financial crisis.

“There can be no doubt that the Bank of England will keep interest rates down at 0.5 percent at the September meeting of [the bank's Monetary Policy Committee] next week and for a considerable time to come thereafter,” Archer said. “Furthermore, pressure is building for action to try and help the economy through more quantitative easing.”

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