A small glimmer of hope for Britain's struggling construction sector emerged today after figures revealed it contracted at a slower pace in January, with an improvement in activity across the sector.

The purchasing managers' index which measures activity in the construction industry rose to 34.5 in January from a record low of 29.3 in December.

Today marks the eleventh consecutive month that the PMI index has been below 50 — anything under 50 indicates a contraction in the sector.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight said that while activity continued to shrink in January, it showed 'some very welcome improvement from December's record low'.

The Times