Business sentiment has continued to improve in recent months, according to a survey by Chartered Accountants Ireland and KBC Bank Ireland, boosted by strong growth in company activity.

The Business Sentiment Index rose to 124.8 during the third quarter of the year, putting it at the its highest point in the survey’s eight year history.

The majority of companies surveyed – 59% - have reported an increase in activity in the past three months, with just 9% reporting a fall.

The growth appears to be broadly-based, according to the index, though construction and consumer-focused companies have gained the most.

Around 35% of firms also said they had increased their pace of hiring during the period, which indicated a level of caution amongst companies despite the upturn in activity.

A similar number of firms also reported an increase in costs during the quarter, though this was consistent with previous surveys.

On Budget 2014, companies were somewhat positive about its anticipated impact, with foreign direct investment also expected to gain from many of its measures.

Optimism around the economy has also continued to grow, with more than 70% reporting positive sentiment towards the economic situation compared to three months ago.