Activity and employment levels in the construction sector continued to increase in November, according to the latest Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers Index.

The index recorded a reading of 63.5 in November, down from 64.9 in October but still signalling a substantial increase in construction activity in Ireland. 

The index, a measure of both activity levels and sentiment in construction, has now risen for 15 months in a row. 

Sentiment levels in the sector are the highest they have been since Ulster Bank began the monthly index in 2000. 

Three quarters of construction firms said they expect business to improve over the coming year.

The index examines three areas of the construction industry - housing, commercial activity and civil engineering.

For the second month in a row, all three sectors saw rises in activity with the the sharpest expansion seen in commercial projects, closely followed by housing. 

The rate of expansion in civil engineering activity quickened sharply during the month and was the fastest for eight years, Ulster Bank noted. 

"Activity trends are being underpinned by substantial increases in new business flows, with companies attributing the latest expansion to general improvements in the construction market and stronger economic confidence," commented Ulster Bank's chief economist Simon Barry.

"Almost three in four firms expect activity to increase over the coming year, reflecting perceptions that the broader economic environment is set to continue to improve," Mr Barry added.