The rate of decline in the Irish construction industry has started to ease, new figures indicate.
Activity in the sector continued to go in the wrong direction but at the slowest rate for eight months, according to the Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI).
The seasonally adjusted index tracks changes in the sector. A recorded figure above 50 indicates an increase in activity on the previous month, with below 50 signalling a contraction.
The January PMI in Ireland was 45.8, indicating a less pronounced decline than the 43.0 measured in December.
Slower reductions in activity were seen on both residential and commercial projects during January.
The slowest fall was in housing activity, which decreased at the slowest pace in a year. In contrast, the rate of contraction in civil engineering activity accelerated, and was much faster than that seen for overall construction activity.
Jobs were once more shed in January, as they have been in every month since May 2007. But again the rate of redundancies slowed, with the smallest number of job losses in 11 months.
Simon Barry, chief economist Republic of Ireland at Ulster Bank, said: "The first reading of 2013 of the Ulster Bank Construction PMI indicates that the rate of deterioration in business conditions in the sector has eased slightly so far this year.
"While it remains the case that activity levels continue to decline, the pace of decline eased to its slowest since May 2012.
"Less-negative trends were evident in the housing sector - where the PMI rose to its highest level in a year - and in commercial construction. However, civil engineering remains the weakest sub-sector, with the January survey picking up an acceleration in the rate of contraction in activity."