Confidence in the construction sector about growth prospects for the year ahead is near record levels, the latest Ulster Bank Purchasing Managers index shows. 

Growth in the construction sector was strong over the second quarter, with the headline index rising to 59.7 from 55.9 in May.

This leaves the index - a monthly measure of activity and sentiment - significantly above the 50 no-change benchmark. It also extended the current period of growth to 34 months. 

Today's PMI shows that new orders, employment and overall activity levels all rising in June after May's six-month low in activity. 

The growth was broadly based with the commercial sector exhibiting the strongest rise in activity in June, just ahead of housing. 

Civil engineering continued to post the weakest rise in activity, although the rate of expansion was marked last month, Ulster Bank noted.

Today's survey showed that the rate of job creation among building companies rose to a three month high in June due to a combination of increased business activity and expansion plans.

Input prices also continued to rise strongly with construction companies noting increased costs for insurance, oil and steel. 

But he added that while the PMI survey results will bear particularly close watching in the months ahead, "the encouraging strength of activity, orders and sentiment at the end of the second quarter indicates that the Irish construction sector carries solid momentum into the second half of the year."