Private sector surges in North during May
Northern Ireland's private sector reported its fastest rate of growth in business activity and new orders during May in seven months.
The latest Ulster Bank Purchasing Managers' Index for the sector in the north signalled a return to growth for both output and new orders during May, amid reports of improved market conditions.
Firms continued to take on extra staff as a result.
Richard Ramsey, Ulster Bank Northern Ireland economist, said the latest survey offers encouragement after a disappointing start to the year.
"Indeed, Northern Ireland's private sector reported its fastest rate of growth in business activity and new orders during May in seven months," Mr Ramsey said.
"Furthermore, firms have continued to increase their staffing levels at a faster rate than the long-term average prior to the downturn."
But Mr Ramsey cautioned that despite the encouraging signs, the pace of Northern Ireland's recovery continues to lag behind the rest of the UK.
"The headline indicators also conceal significant variation in performance by sector, and indeed within certain markets," he added.