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CONSTRUCTION industry activity rose again in December on the back of a sharp increase in new orders.

The purchasing managers' index (PMI) from Ulster Bank, which tracks the sector, stood at 58.3 last month. Any figure above 50 is positive.

"The headline PMI index edged lower in December but remains at elevated levels and continues to signal strong expansion in overall activity, as it has done for the past four months," Ulster Bank economist Simon Barry said.

House-building was the strongest sub-sector again in December, growing the fastest in nine years while there were also gains in commercial activity while civil engineering lagged behind.