The UK construction sector had a robust July, with a key indicator of activity hitting a three-month high.

The purchasing managers' index of construction activity in the monthly Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply survey rose to 53.2 in July from 50.8 in June. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The sector makes up six per cent of GDP.

The pick up pushed up price pressures. The sub-index for input costs rose to its highest since March, at 74.5.

CIPS said anecdotal evidence suggested accelerated July growth stemmed from gains in new business, leading to a rise in employment. The sub-index measuring employment rose to 51.6 from 49.8.

There was also a pick up in confidence in July, after a ten-month low in June. This was linked to expectations of new business gains over coming months and planned company expansions, CIPS said.

"The future looks bright, with purchasing managers indicating company expansions are on the horizon," said Roy Ayliffe, CIPS director of professional practice.