Activity in the services sector accelerated to hit a 14-month high in April as the country began a gradual loosening of Covid-19 restrictions, a survey showed today.
The Government last week said it would press ahead with plans to reopen all retail stores, personal services and non-residential construction in May.
Hotels, restaurants and bars will be allowed to serve outdoors from early June.
The AIB IHS Markit Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) jumped to 57.7 in April from 54.6 in March, the fifth time it has crossed the 50-mark separating expansion from contraction since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The April reading was up from a 2021 low of 36.2 reported in January.
"Although much of the services sector remains in lockdown, the data are encouraging as all the main components of the survey showed significant improvements," AIB's chief economist Oliver Mangan said.
International demand helped lift exports of services to their joint-fastest growth rate since July 2018, with firms reporting increased business from British and mainland European markets.
The survey's future activity index hit a three-year high on expectations the reopening of the economy will bring a strong rebound in business activity.