June 3, 2011 / 8:58 AM / 8 years ago

Construction orders suffer biggest fall since 1987

Cranes tower above St Paul's Cathedral from various construction works in London June 1, 2011. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

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

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