Construction firms saw another rise in new business, according to the latest Ulster Bank PMI on the sector, which helped boost an overall improvement in activity, employment and confidence.

The Ulster Bank construction PMI rose to 56.3 in October from 55.8 in September. Any figure above 50 indicates growth in the sector and the industry has now increased in each of the past 26 months. 

Activity in the housing market continues to be the strongest in the sector, with commercial construction close behind. Civil engineering also grew sharply in October, though it still remains the slowest growing of the three categories.

Ulster Bank said overall activity and new business levels have been rising well for the past two years, while growth in new orders and employment remains solid.

"Both overall activity and new business levels have been rising for well over two years now, and the sustained expansion of activity in the sector continues to drive higher staffing levels among survey respondents," commented Ulster Bank's chief economist Simon Barry. 

"More generally, optimism about future prospects for the sector remains high and strengthened in October, with nearly 60% of respondents expecting a further rise in activity levels over the next twelve months," the economist added.