The rate of growth in business output across Northern Ireland declined in August, according to the latest Ulster Bank Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI).

The report, produced for Ulster Bank by Markit, signalled growth of output from the previous month, but the rate of expansion was only slight.

The seasonally adjusted Business Activity Index posted 51.1 in August, down from 52.6 in July and signalling the weakest expansion in private sector output in the current four-month sequence of growth.

Meanwhile, a further increase in new business was recorded and firms upped their pace of job creation.

Three of the four monitored sectors recorded an increase in activity, led by retail. The only category to post a fall in output was construction.

Higher new business was recorded again, with the rate of expansion remaining solid.

Additional workloads contributed to a seventh consecutive monthly rise in employment in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, the rate of cost inflation eased in August and companies left their output prices broadly unchanged.

Following two successive monthly rises, output prices were broadly unchanged for the month.

While some respondents increased their charges in line with higher input costs, others reported that competitive pressures and efforts to stimulate sales had led them to lower output prices.

Manufacturing was the only sector to post a fall in prices charged.