Investing.com - Construction sector activity in the U.K. shrank more-than-expected in December, slowing to a six-month low, industry data showed on Thursday.
In a report, market research firm Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply said that their U.K. construction purchasing managers' index fell to a seasonally adjusted 48.7 in December from a reading of 49.3 in November.
Economists had expected the index to ease up to 49.5 last month.
On the index, a level above 50.0 indicates industry expansion, below indicates contraction.
The index has now posted below the neutral 50.0 value in four of the past five months, and the latest reading indicated the fastest rate of contraction since June 2012.
Commenting on the report, senior economist at Markit Tim Moore said, "December rounded off a miserable year for the U.K. construction sector, with output declining at the steepest pace for six months and new business intakes falling back at the fastest rate since April 2009."
"Survey respondents are also relatively subdued about the 2013 outlook amid reports from their clients that budgets will be under even greater pressure over the year ahead," he added.
Following the release of that data, the pound remained lower against the U.S. dollar, with GBP/USD shedding 0.18% to trade at 1.6226.
Meanwhile, European stock markets held on to mild losses. London's FTSE 100 eased down 0.2%, the EURO STOXX 50 fell 0.5%, France's CAC 40 declined 0.5%, while Germany's DAX dipped 0.2%.
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