The latest Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) report for Ireland – a seasonally adjusted index designed to track changes in total construction activity – has shown an increase for the second month running.

The headline index rose from 57.9 in February to 60.8 in March, pointing to the most marked monthly increase in total construction activity since October 2016.

These strong rates of expansion come amid reports of improving client demand. According to the report, new order growth was sharp and only marginally weaker than in February, which respondents said was the main factor leading to the rise in activity.

Ulster Bank said constructors responded to the growth of new orders by raising their own input buying and employment levels.

With the general expectation that the recent improvements will continue over the coming year, business confidence was said to remain positive.

While commercial activity was a particularly strong category, Simon Barry, chief economist for the Republic of Ireland at Ulster Bank, said, “Housing activity continues to expand at a very rapid rate, albeit that the pace of growth in residential activity eased modestly in March.

“Civil engineering remained an area of weakness, however, with respondents reporting a fifth consecutive decline in activity.”

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