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[LONDON] Growth in Britain's construction industry was its weakest in nine months in January after a short-lived recovery in December, a survey published on Tuesday showed.
The Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers' Index weakened to 55.0 from 57.8, below the median forecast of 57.5 in a Reuters poll of economists.
Order books grew at the weakest pace in four months and construction firms took on staff at the slowest rate since September 2013.
Housebuilding and commercial property work were the biggest drivers behind the slowdown in January, according to survey compiler Markit.
"UK construction firms struggled for momentum at the start of this year, with heightened economic uncertainty acting as a brake on new orders and contributing to one of the weakest rises in output levels since the summer of 2013," Markit economist Tim Moore said.
The PMI contrasted with a similar gauge of Britain's manufacturing sector published on Monday which showed the factory sector had a stronger-than expected start to 2016, raising hope that Britain would not be hit too hard by a slowdown in the global economy.
Analysts look at the surveys for the early signs they give about the broader economy. However, the PMIs for the construction sector have been at odds with data used in official growth figures in recent months.
Optimism among construction companies waned to its lowest level since December 2014, the PMI showed. "Taken together with the slowdown in new order growth, the latest survey suggests that construction companies are braced for a relatively subdued first quarter," Moore said.