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Construction growth 'fastest since February'

Construction activity in the UK grew at its fastest pace since February, the latest data reveals.The Markit/Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply Purchasing Managers' Index stood at 62.6 in June, rising from May's seven-month low of 60.0 and remaining well over the 50.0 no-change threshold.According to the survey, faster expansions of housing and commercial building activity were responsible for the latest growth.The rise in housebuilding was the steepest since January, while commercial building activity enjoyed its best growth for five months during June. This expansion in commercial activity was linked to improving economic conditions and better confidence in the business outlook.As a result of the increase in activity and a surge in new orders, the sector witnessed the steepest rise in employment levels since 1997.The only sector which saw a moderation in activity was civil engineering - the latest expansion was the least marked since September 2013. Anecdotal evidence suggested this could have been due to the completion of work relating to flood relief.Optimism in the sector remains high for the coming year as a result of incoming orders and favourable economic conditions. The degree of positive sentiment slipped to a six-month low in June, however, possibly due to the threat of rising interest rates.Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit, said: "A key recent development across the construction sector has been the return to pre-recession rates of job creation, following a prolonged period of falling payroll numbers and cuts to operating capacity."He added that the latest rise in employment is "a remarkable yardstick of progress as the sector looks to recover the ground lost over the past seven years".Sharp rises in input buying were recorded across the construction sector, contributing to a deterioration in vendor performance.There was also an acceleration in input cost inflation as a result of strong demand for construction materials - the figure reached a six-month high in June. 

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