The country's services sector grew at the fastest rate in nine years in November, with employment, prices charged and new business all expanding strongly, a survey showed today. 

The Investec Purchasing Managers' Index of activity in services, which covers businesses from banks to hotels, climbed to 63.6 from 60.1 in October. 

It was the highest reading since June 2006. The index last fell below the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction in July 2012. 

"Activity in the sector is expanding at a blistering pace," Investec Ireland chief economist Philip O'Sullivan said. 

"It is clear that Irish services companies remain very upbeat on the prospects for their sector in spite of the more unsettled global backdrop," he added. 

Today's survey shows that the employment sub-index reached its highest level since the survey began in 2000.

The business expectations sub-index hit its highest level since January 2004, climbing to 80.3 from 76.7, with more than 20 times as many respondents anticipating an increase in activity over the coming year as expecting a contraction.