Investing.com - Construction sector activity in the U.K. improved less-than-expected in March, remaining in contraction territory for the fifth consecutive month, industry data showed on Wednesday.
In a report, market research firm Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply said that their U.K. construction purchasing managers' index rose to a seasonally adjusted 47.2 in March from a reading of 46.8 in February.
Economists had expected the index to improve to 47.5 last month.
The latest reading was below the 50.0 no-change mark for the fifth month running and much weaker than the series average of 54.0.
On the index, a level above 50.0 indicates industry expansion, below indicates contraction.
Commenting on the report, senior economist at Markit Tim Moore said, "The negative print for construction output mirrors that seen for manufacturing, and now leaves the service sector as the last great hope for avoiding another slide in U.K. GDP."
Following the release of that data, the pound turned lower against the U.S. dollar, with GBP/USD falling 0.07% to trade at 1.5093.
Meanwhile, European stock markets held on to mild losses. London's FTSE 100 eased down 0.3%, the EURO STOXX 50 fell 0.3%, France's CAC 40 declined 0.2%, while Germany's DAX dipped 0.15%.
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