LONDON, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- The building of new homes is the principal source of growth in Britain's construction sector, figures released on Wednesday show, with construction firms tackling a shortfall in house building that has persisted since the financial crisis.
The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS construction Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) posted 52.2 in December (above 50 is growth), a slight decline from 53.1 in November.
This is the third successive month of growth for the sector, which has been the area of the British economy most exposed to Brexit uncertainty as businesses hesitate over big ticket investment projects while the future of the Britain-EU trading relationship remains under discussion.
Survey respondents indicated that house building remained a key engine of growth, with residential work expanding for the 16th consecutive month.
"The PMI data confirms the divergent performance in construction activity," Rebecca Larkin, senior economist at the Construction Products Association told Xinhua on Wednesday.
"House building continues to be the star sector, with demand and activity underpinned by the continued government support from Help to Buy (a government scheme for first-time homebuyers)," she added.
The sector can expect a prosperous 2018 after finance minister Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond outlined in his annual budget in November that the government intended to hit a target of 300,000 homes built each year to meet a severe housing shortfall.
There was a moderate fall in commercial construction, continuing a downward trend seen since July. Civil engineering work stabilized during the latest survey period, which ended a three-month period of decline.
"The falls in new commercial orders since the EU referendum is now starting to filter through into weaker activity on the ground, with confidence likely to be noticeably subdued in new offices for financial services, those most affected by Brexit-related uncertainty," said Larkin.