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Construction firms report seven-month highs in new orders and employment levels

Construction firms have reported seven-month highs in new orders and employment levels, according to new figures.

The Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), a seasonally adjusted snapshot designed to track changes -- recorded a sharp rise in activity last month.

It is the second successive acceleration in the rate of growth of construction activity - and is the fastest since June 2015.

Ulster Bank chief economist Simon Barry said: "The Irish construction sector has gotten off to a very strong start to 2016.

"The new orders and employment indices both rose to seven-month highs in January, indicating that the pace of overall activity, new business and hiring have all accelerated meaningfully in the early part of the New Year."

The early-year improvement has been broad based.

Respondents have reported stronger activity growth across all three sub-sectors of housing, commercial and civil engineering, with a particularly strong pick-up recorded in housing, where growth was the fastest since October 2014.

Mr Barry added: "Overall, the strong construction PMI figures mirror the encouraging signals sent from the other Irish PMI surveys for January, particularly the services equivalent which jumped to its highest level in over nine and a half years.

"So while there are some prominent downside risks facing the outlook for the global economy at present, several important areas of the domestic economy in Ireland look to be carrying considerable momentum into the early months of 2016."

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