Growth in the services sector eased in November but confidence hit a seven-year high, a survey showed today, as economic momentum builds.

The Investec Purchasing Managers' index of activity in the services sector grew for the 16th month in a row in November, although the pace of expansion eased to 57.1 from October's reading of 60.1.

That was still ahead of the 13-year-old survey's historical average and also the 50.9 flash reading recorded last month for the euro zone as a whole. 

The services sector here covers businesses from banks to hotels and accounts for 70% of economic output. 

"All in all, the report serves as another reminder of the relative improvement underway in the Irish economy," said Investec Ireland chief economist Philip O'Sullivan.

"For some months now we have been expressing confidence that growth will accelerate into 2014 on the back of a stabilising domestic economy and improving export markets - today's report leads us to reiterate that view," he added.

The sub-index that measures expectations among firms for the next 12 months rose to 75.1 from 74 in October, its fastest expansion since October 2006 and before the economic crisis.

New business and employment improved slightly in the month, while a sixth successive accumulation of backlogs of work was recorded, albeit a slower rise than in October.