Private housing boosts growth

Britain's construction firms ended a year-long run of decline in the final quarter of last year, but the sector is far from out of the woods, experts said yesterday. Industry output rose 0.9 per cent between October and December, the Office for National Statistics said, halting a slide which began in the third quarter of 2011. Private housing made the biggest contribution to growth.

Economists said the bigger-than-expected rise increased the chances of the wider economy's 0.3 per cent decline at the end of 2012 being revised higher. But the rise far from recovers the 2.2 per cent slump endured between July and September, with output still 9.3 per cent lower than a year earlier.

Steve McGuckin, at the project manager Turner & Townsend, said: "Only the most resolutely optimistic could see this data as a happy ending to a miserable year for construction."