Construction 'solid' despite December dip
Growth slowed marginally in Ireland's construction sector in December, but remains robust, according to Ulster Bank's latest purchasing managers' index for the sector.
Firms that responded were strongly optimistic that activity would continue to grow in 2017.
The headline number for the index was 58.9 in December, down from 59.8 in November - a figure above 50 indicates growth.
"Both the residential and commercial sub-sectors remain particular sources of strength for survey respondents, with activity in both categories continuing to rise at rapid rates, albeit slightly less rapid than was the case in November," said Ulster Bank's chief economist for the Republic of Ireland Simon Barry.
"Civil engineering remains an area of weakness, however, with activity here decreasing for the second month running," he said.
Construction activity has now risen in each of the past 40 months.
"Momentum behind the sector's recovery continues to look encouragingly solid, with a marked pick up in new orders in December indicating that activity trends look set to remain positive in early 2017," Mr Barry said.
"Furthermore, firms themselves remain strongly optimistic about the coming year with almost two thirds of respondents expecting further growth in activity in the coming 12 months."
Rising workloads led construction firms to increase their staffing levels at the end of the year, the report said.
It said input cost inflation had accelerated sharply in December - the fastest in nearly 10 years, with higher prices for raw materials and manufactured goods.