The latest Markit/CIPS Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index hit 53.2 in December from 52.3 in November – any figure above 50 represents an increases in workloads.
The rise marked 12 months of growth reported by buyers but confidence over future prospects remains muted.
David Noble, Chief Executive Officer at the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply, said: “Despite the overall growth in construction output and relatively milder weather conditions, December’s PMI painted a mixed picture and therefore offered little to raise the spirits.
“Civil engineering was the star performer with the strongest increase on the previous month but this must be viewed in the context of volatile activity flows at the end of the year, and it’s still too early to measure the impact of some of the big Government spending projects announced in the Autumn Review statement.
“Overall expectations for the coming year were generally hopeful but continue to be skewed by wider economic uncertainties.
“Though there were modest increases in employment, it’s likely that many firms were hiring through necessity rather than optimism about any pick up in business in the next couple of months.”
Sarah Bingham, Economist at Markit and author of the UK Construction PMI said: “PMI data signalled a positive end to 2011 for the UK construction sector, with output rising again on the back of another increase in new business.
“The survey suggests that the sector should make a positive contribution to the economy in the final quarter of the year, helping avoid a possible slide back into contraction.
“House building, commercial construction and civil engineering all saw higher activity in December.
“However, the sustainability of the overall rise in output remains uncertain, with confidence about the year ahead still relatively subdued.
“Optimism continues to be hindered by concerns regarding low client confidence and worries over wider economic and market conditions.”