Builders materials group CRH has reported a 9% increase in group sales for the first quarter of 2016, driven by positive momentum in the American markets where sales were up by 22%. 

It said that activity in its Americas division in the usually low-volume first quarter was ahead of the previous year, boosted by very good weather and the favourable economic and business environment. 

In Europe, the company said the stabilising trends continued across its main markets, although with some regional variations. Overall sales were in line with expectations.

Meanwhile, the company said its sales in Asia were up 12%, with strong cement demand in the Philippines. 

CRH said it is expecting first half earnings to come in close to €1 billion, which would represent mid-single digit percentage growth compared the first half last year.

Looking ahead to the second half of the year, CRH said it expects a broadly stable backdrop in Europe to support some improvement across its main markets

It also said it expects construction demand in the US to continue to grow at a modest pace.

CRH completed a number of divestments and asset disposals with total proceeds of €78m during the first three months of the year. 

It also spent €85m on acquisitions and investments, most of which related to bolt-on companies in the Americas Materials division. 

Shares in the company were higher in Dublin trade this afternoon.