The monthly measure of activity in the construction sector showed further gains in September.

The Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Manager's index moved up to 58.7 in September from 58.4 in August. The overall index has shown growth now for three years.

It recorded growth across all three categories it monitors - housing, commercial activity and civil engineering.

Civil engineering returned to growth last month, albeit at a weaker pace than the sharp rates of growth which continue to be reported in the commercial and housing areas, Ulster Bank noted. 

New orders, which are a good indicator of future activity, increased for the thirty-ninth month in a row, and at the fastest pace since March.

Increasing workloads also led companies to raise their input buying in September. The rate of expansion remained sharp, despite easing to a three-month low, the bank said.

The pick-up in the new orders index from already elevated levels is signalling acceleration in new business growth in the third quarter compared with the second," commented Ulster Bank's chief economist Simon Barry.  

"This is a pattern which leaves construction sector momentum looking stronger than both manufacturing and services as we enter the final quarter of the year, with recent PMIs from those sectors suggesting that Brexit impacts are weighing on activity trends in the more internationally-exposed areas of the economy," Mr Barry added.