Resurgent UK construction sector offers hope to builders here
The rebirth of the UK's construction sector is an opportunity for firms in Northern Ireland, where building sites remain almost deserted, an economist said.
Activity in the UK building sector surged last month - and Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said the growth should encourage the province's construction companies to look to the buoyant market for business.
The latest Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) survey for the construction sector - where a reading above 50 indicates growth - rose to 56.5 in February from 53.7 in January.
Mr Ramsey said the UK construction sector was in "rude health" compared to Northern Ireland and the Republic, with growth of nearly 6% in 2010.
"This rapid recovery has benefited local manufacturing and construction firms who have switched their focus from the beleaguered island of Ireland markets to the more prosperous Great Britain market," Mr Ramsey said.
"Given the challenging outlook that remains for the construction industry in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, local firms need to re-double their efforts in availing of the significant opportunities that the market offers."