The construction industry felt a slight autumnal chill in an otherwise heartening year, according to the latest government figures.
Construction orders for the three months to November last year dropped 3% on the previous quarter, although they were 8% up on the same period in 2001. Orders fell in the infrastructure, private housing and public housing sectors, although these were largely offset by demand from companies for commercial and industrial projects.

The DTI figures indicate that the number of new construction orders last year was the highest for at least a decade, although December's results have not yet been confirmed. Orders rose 5% for the 12 months to November on the same period in 2001.

This was largely because of increases in public sector building projects (excluding housing and infrastructure), which rose 17%, and private housing orders, which increased 10%.

But it was a poor 12 months for industrial work. Orders fell by 19% on 2001. The sector rallied towards the end of the year with a 2% increase in orders in the three months to November over the previous quarter. The volume of orders also rose 8% compared with the same quarter last year.