Output in Britain's construction sector rose sharply in January with the steepest gain in six and a half years, Markit Economics said Tuesday. Housing construction activity rose to the highest level in more than 10 years in January as job creation in the sector remained "strong," Markit said. The purchasing managers index for construction in January, the headline index for the sector, rose from December's 62.1 to 64.6. In the index, figures above 50 indicate growth, while below 50 indicates a business contraction. January was the ninth consecutive month of growth in the sector and the sharpest overall expansion since August 2007, Markit said. The headline index reflected growth in all three divisions of the construction sector, including residential construction, commercial building and civil engineering. "The construction industry has started 2014 in formidable fashion, enjoying its strongest growth in six-and-a-half years reinforced by a sharp rise in new business orders," said David Noble, chief executive officer at the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply, which is a co-publisher of the report. "Housing activity growth now stands at its strongest for just over a decade, boosted by growing demand for new homes and improving confidence within the UK property market," said Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit.