Autumn Statement 2016: House building
October was the first time in four months the construction sector had reported signs of expansion Neil Hall/ Reuters

Britain's construction sector ended 2016 on a positive note, largely thanks to an increase in new work, data released on Friday (10 February) by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed.

Output in the industry rose 1.8% month-on-month in December, compared with analysts' expectations for a 1% gain. Meanwhile, the 0.2% drop recorded in the previous month was revised up to show a 0.4% gain.

On a year-on-year basis, the construction sector saw output grow 0.6%, compared with analysts' forecast for a 0.5% drop and an upwardly revised 1.8% increase recorded in November.

The ONS added private commercial work was one of the main drivers behind construction growth, expanding by 5.2% in December.

However, despite growing by 0.2% year-on-year, the infrastructure sub-sector output recorded its eleventh consecutive month of decline.

Data released last week by Markit/CIPS UK showed Britain's construction sector fared slightly worse than expected in January, with overall business activity growing at the lowest rate since the post-Brexit referendum recovery began.

The closely watched Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers' Index stood at 52.2 last month, compared with analysts' expectations for a 53.8 figure and with the 54.2 reading recorded in December, the fastest pace in nine months.