THE services sector grew for the fifth month in a row in December, as orders for export hit their highest level in six years.
The latest Services Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) from NCB showed a reading of 55.8. The index consolidates activity in the services industry into a single number. A figure over 50 indicates growth, under 50 indicates contraction.
"With respondents across all four components indicating that they are upbeat about the outlook, as has been the case for seven months running, we would expect to see the positive trends observed in the second half of 2012 continue into this year," said NCB chief economist Philip O'Sullivan.
The Irish data contrasted sharply with UK figures, which showed the services sector had contracted at the fastest pace since 2009, raising fears the economy there had fallen back into recession for the third time since 2008. The index fell to 48.9, the worst performance since April 2009.