LONDON (Reuters) - New construction orders suffered their biggest fall since 1987 in the first three months of 2011, raising concerns that the sector may continue to be a drag on the economy in the second quarter of this year.
The Office for National Statistics said order volumes fell across all sectors of the construction industry to give a 23 percent decline on the quarter, the biggest fall since Q4 1987. Year-on-year, new orders in the first three months of 2011 were 18 percent lower, the biggest drop since Q1 2009.
Construction acted as a major drag on total British economic output in the first three months of the year, with data released last week showing a 4 percent fall in volumes on the quarter, the biggest since early 2009.
Some economists have been sceptical of the official data series, however, and expect it to be revised higher. A Market/CIPS survey of purchasing managers in the construction sector released on Wednesday showed stronger than expected activity growth in May.
Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by Catherine Evans