LONDON: UK construction activity contracted for a second straight month in September, according to the latest Markit/CIPS construction purchasing managers' index. The index rose slightly to 49.5 from 49.0 in August, but remained below the 50 line that separates growth from contraction.

David Noble, chief executive of CIPS, said: "September's figures show the construction sector's cupboard to be well and truly bare, rounding off a disastrous quarter. After the longest continual decline in new orders for three years, this is of no surprise.

"Looking ahead, there is little to be positive about.

"Homebuilding continues to be hit hard, the commercial sector, so long the star of the industry, has lost its sparkle. That civil engineering has seen a moderate increase in activity, is scant consolation.

"All of this, points to an ominous future. In the absence of investment of some kind, we are likely to see this level of activity continue for some time, or possibly even drop further."