- U.K. construction sector activity expanded at a slower rate than expected in February, dampening optimism over the country’s economic outlook, industry data showed on Tuesday.

In a report, market research firm Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply said that their U.K. construction purchasing managers'' index fell to a seasonally adjusted 62.6 last month from a reading of 64.6 in January.

Economists had expected the index to ease down to 63.0 in February.

Commenting on the report, senior economist at Markit David Noble said, “Bad weather took a bite out of progress in house building, but UK construction remains on a strong growth trajectory in February.”

Following the release of the data, the pound held on to gains against the U.S. dollar, with GBP/USD rising 0.24% to trade at 1.6704.

Meanwhile, European stock markets remained higher. London’s FTSE 100 advanced 1.1%, the EURO STOXX 50 rallied 1%, France’s CAC 40 rose 1.2%, while Germany''s DAX picked up 0.95%.

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