Britain's housebuilders saw a return to buoyant conditions last month after a weather-hit February, while confidence among construction firms rose to its highest level since before the recession.

The overall sector maintained a pattern of strong growth, with a reading of 62.5 in March on the closely-watched Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' index (PMI) - where 50 separates growth from contraction.

The reading represented the 11th month in a row of growth for the sector.

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But it was little changed on the previous month's figure of 62.6 because of a slowdown in the growth of civil engineering output, which had been buoyed by flood relief work in February.