Business activity in Irish services companies continued to see strong growth again in November.

The latest NCB Services Purchasing Managers index stood at 56.1 in November, unchanged from the previous month's five year high.

Companies said that rising new orders had led to the latest expansion in activity.

NCB noted that new business has been in positive terrain for the past four months.

NCB said that the improved demand helped bolster employment, which recorded a third monthly increase in a row. It was also the sharpest rise in employment in 63 months.

New export business also rose sharply in November, extending the current series of expansion to 16 months. Firms noted higher new orders from the US.

The Services PMI surveys four sectors - business services, financial services, technology, media & telecoms and transport & leisure. All of these reported growth in business activity during the month, apart from transport and leisure.

NCB's chief economist Philip O'Sullivan described the survey results as ''an impressive performance given the broader economic backdrop''.

Companies in the services sector are upbeat about their prospects, as forecasts of improvements in economic conditions led firms to expect activity to rise over the coming year.

Today's survey shows that the rate of input price inflation slowed for the second month in a row last month, while output prices also declined. Companies pointed to the need to offer discounts in order to support growth of new business.

Services companies recorded a broadly stable trend in profits over the three months to November, NCB said. Any fall in profits was blamed on higher input charges.