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The construction industry expanded last month at the fastest pace since January 2006, new data showed, adding to a growing arsenal of proof of the sector's nascent recovery.

New orders, job creation and industry sentiment all improved during the month, the latest Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) shows.

The index's topline reading, a closely watched gauge of the industry's health, rose to 60.2 in March from 56.2 the previous month.

Any reading over 50 indicates expansion.

Where activity increased, panellists mainly linked this to growth of new orders.

Both residential and commercial building activity rose.

"Housing activity continued to rise sharply in March with last month representing the ninth month in a row of expansion linked to residential projects," said Ulster Bank chief economist Simon Barry.

"Commercial activity also continues to expand briskly, while the pace of decline in civil engineering eased for the second month running."

Employment in the construction industry rose for the seventh month in a row.

Source: Irish Independant

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