Construction activity grew again in February, led by growth in new orders. 

The Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers index, which measures activity in the industry each month, stood at 56.2 in February, down marginally from the 56.4 seen in January. 

But the February reading was still the sixth successive month of growth and is a sign that recovery in the sector is now well established.

Any figure over 50 signals growth in a sector, while a figure under 50 signals contraction.

Companies involved in the building sector said that job creation increased during the month, while they remained strongly optimistic outlook for the year ahead.

The index covers three sector - housing, commercial and civil engineering.  The sharpest expansion in activity was again seen in the residential sector. Although the rate of growth in housing activity slowed, it remained substantial. 

A further marked increase in commercial activity was also seen last month but the civil engineering sector continued to fall at a sharp pace during the month.

The upsurge in overall activity is also being reflected in a study carried out by the Chartered Surveyors of Ireland.

It has reporting that construction tender prices rose by 2.2% in the second half of last year to give an annual growth in prices of just over 3%.

Micheál O’Connor, President of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland said that the upward movement in prices reflects the current modest upturn in construction activity, albeit from a very low base. 

"Tender prices have now risen by over 8% since they bottomed out at the end of 2010 / start of 2011 and it is anticipated that this trend will continue and possibly accelerate during 2014," he added.