Construction activity was at a five-month high in August, according to the Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index.

Total construction activity measured by the index climbed from 53.2 in July to 54.5 in August.

The pick-up in growth was underpinned by an increase in commercial activity, which reached an 11-month high, and civil engineering, which recorded its strongest growth since February 2004.

In contrast, housing activity in August slipped to 45.4, its third decline in four months.

The volume of orders received by UK contractors rose at its fastest pace in nine months during August.

Job creation was at its strongest since April, and the Quantity of Purchases Index reached 55.2, the fastest rise for five months.

Confidence among UK contractors about the future rose to 74.7, up from 71.8. This was underpinned by recent gains in new business and expectations that further contracts will soon be acquired.

The use of subcontractors fell for the fifth month running. It dipped to 48.8 in August, down from 49.0 the month before. The quality of subcontracted work deteriorated to 49.1 from 47.8 in July.

The index measures the number of respondents who give a positive response compared with those who give a negative: 50 denotes an equal number on either side.