Northern Ireland production index hits all-time high
The index of production for industry in Northern Ireland reached an all-time high in the first quarter of 2015, figures show.
Output from companies was up by nearly 4% over the first three months of 2015, according to the index from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
Growth in the UK as a whole was sluggish in comparison at just 0.2% - reversing the usual trend of Northern Ireland lagging behind other regions.
While the index was at an all-time high for Northern Ireland, the UK's was down 10.2% on its peak in 2007.
Northern Ireland's year-on-year growth was also higher than the UK as a whole, at 5.1% compared to 1% in the UK.
There was growth in three out of four of Northern Ireland's production sectors.
Manufacturing output was up 4%, while electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply saw growth of 3%.
But expansion was strongest in mining and quarry, with a jump of 7.4%.
However, water supply and waste management output was down 2.8%.
Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said the index presented a positive picture for manufacturing in the province.
"The province's manufacturing sector has almost recouped all of the output it lost during the recession. Output for quarter one in 2015 is now less then 1% below the peak reached in quarter four of 2007," he added.
Manufacturing had also shown growth over the last four quarters, with a rise of 4.3%.