The pace of growth in the construction sector continued to rise in April to a new six month high, the latest Purchasing Managers Index from Ulster Bank shows. 

April's index had an overall reading of 61.3, an improvement on the March figure and well above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction. 

Housing activity continued to increase in the month, becoming the fastest growing area of the construction industry in April.

Commercial activity saw a slow down in its pace of growth, though it remained in expansion mode.

The civil engineering area also returned to growth following five months of contraction.

The Ulster Bank PMI also showed a rise in new orders, which suggested a healthy pipeline of work.

This combined to push up some input prices and led to a longer wait for the delivery of certain goods.

"Survey respondents reported that strong momentum in the housing sector along with improving economic conditions more generally are likely to sustain favourable dynamics in construction activity over the coming twelve months," commented Ulster Bank's chief economist Simon Barry.