THE construction industry remained under water in March but the rate of decline was the slowest so far this year.
According to the Ulster Bank Purchasing Managers Index, cost inflation in March was driven by higher fuel costs.
The index rose to 46.7 in March from 45.8 in February.
Any figure above 50 means growth but below marks contraction.
Meanwhile, business optimism was solid, and improved to the strongest since prior to the current downturn.
"The March results of the Ulster Bank Construction PMI survey show that Irish construction firms continue to experience outright declines in activity levels, as they have done in each month since June 2007,'' said Simon Barry, Ulster Bank's chief economist.