Activity in the services sector declined again last month for the third month in a row.

The NCB Purchasing Managers Index for services eased to stand at 49.1 in July from 49.7 in June. 

Any figure over 50 signals growth in an area, which anything under 50 indicates contraction. 

The index covers financial services, technology, media and the tourism and leisure sectors and it showed that activity did not expand in any of the four broad sectors covered.

Manufacturing data on Wednesday showed that Ireland was the only euro zone country recording growth in that sector.

Today's index showed that new business declined marginally during the month. The level of new business in the technology, media and telecoms sector fell for the first time in a year. However, new export orders remained buoyant.

It also showed that employment levels fell for the third month in a row, although the financial services sector saw an increase in jobs for the first time since September 2011.