The Bank of England's much expected decision to cut interest rates by 0.25% to 5% will provide a little short-term relief to worried managements within the construction and property sectors - although there will have been many crossed-fingered directors hoping for a 50 basis point cut.

And certainly the contracting fraternity must be starting to sense a cold chill heading its way. The latest data has all been gloomy and the construction new orders figures for February suggest that the flow of work in the pipeline for both the housing and commercial sectors is easing.

Overall the February figure was up a fraction on a year ago. But orders figures bounce about a lot month to month. A more important view is to compare the latest three month figures with the same for a year earlier - and that throws up a few disturbing, but predictable, patterns.

Housing orders were down best part of 20% on a year earlier - interestingly with the social sector down the most. Commercial orders on the same basis were down 8%.

With longer-term contracts and generally more stable orderbooks, contractors should be better placed than in past downturns to weather the storm. But the figures are sufficiently serious to suggest that many firms will be taking a long hard look at the near future and how to adjust themselves to head off any pain.

That said, it's nice to end on some good news and there is some in the figures - infrastructure orders are well up, for the time being at least.