Construction activity growth reached a four-month high in December, with job creation in the sector rising for the 64th month in succession.

The latest Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Manager's Index, which monitors the sector's performance every month, showed a reading of 56.3 in December, up from 55.5 in November.

Ulster Bank noted that residential and commercial construction increased again in December, but civil engineering activity declined further. 

Commercial construction activity grew at the fastest pace in five months, while residential activity increased though at a slower pace than in November. 

"Overall, the December survey results round off another strong year for Irish construction firms, with the PMI pointing to ongoing very healthy expansion throughout 2018," Ulster Bank's chief economist Simon Barry said. 

The economist also said that the momentum behind the sector's recovery continues to look solid, with new orders continuing to rise solidly in December indicating that activity trends look set to remain positive in early 2019.  

"Furthermore, firms themselves remain optimistic about the coming year with almost half of respondents expecting further growth in activity in the coming 12 months," he said. 

"Positive sentiment about the year ahead is being underpinned by increased capital investments along with confidence about the prospects of the wider Irish economy more generally," he added.