The construction sector put in a strong performance again in November, according to the latest index from Ulster Bank.

The construction Purchasing Managers Index tracks sentiment in the industry and showed a reading of 55.5 in November.

While this was below the reading of 56.3 in October, growth has been recorded in the sector for the past 27 months.  Any figure above 50 signals growth in the sector, while a figure under 50 signals contraction.

Today's index shows that new orders growth was at a five month high in November - a good indicator for future activity. 

The rate of job creation quickened in the month to the fastest level since June as companies took on more staff to deal with the new work loads.

All three sectors - housing, commercial and civil engineering - recorded expansion for the third month in a row, with the pace of activity pciking up in commercial projects and easing slightly in housing and civil engineering. 

Ulster Bank's chief economist Simon Barry said that several other aspects of the results provide encouragement about the sector's performance.

Mr Barry said there was a notable acceleration in new business growth recorded by firms last month, with the new orders index picking up to a five month high.

"Furthermore, the ongoing increases in current and prospective activity levels continue to underpin rising demand for construction workers, with the employment index also rising to its highest level since June, " the economist said.

He also noted that optimism levels among firms rose for the second month in a row and now stand at the third-highest in the survey's 15 year history. 

"A pick-up in enquiries and an improving economic environment more generally are contributing to bullish sentiment among construction firms as the year draws to a close, with two-thirds of respondents expecting activity to increase over the coming 12 months", Mr Barry added.