Construction activity here continued to fall last month, albeit marginally.
But the latest Construction Purchasing Managers Index from BNP Paribas Real Estate Ireland shows there were some signs of inflation in the sector cooling in March.
It also found that growth in new orders, employment and input buying were all sustained.
“Order books strengthened progressively through the quarter,” said John McCartney, Director & Head of Research at BNP Paribas Real Estate Ireland.
“This was mirrored by increased materials purchasing and hiring of staff.”
The contraction in activity last month was the sixth successive reduction in total activity.
However, some businesses did refer to the relative improvement in demand, despite the subdued market conditions experienced by others.
All three categories measured by the index saw activity drop.
Civil engineering saw the steepest fall, with a marked contraction in activity.
“The downturn in housing was similarly solid and the sixth in as many months,” said BNPRE.
“Meanwhile, commercial continued to buck the wider trend and saw activity expand for the second month in a row.”
The outlook looks more positive though, with new business expanding for the second month in a row.
“Panel members had mentioned some strengthening in underlying demand conditions, with new projects currently underway and an increasing number of incoming enquiries,” said the BNPRE.
“Furthermore, the rate of growth quickened from that seen in February.”
Employment levels have risen for the each of the past three months and purchasing activity was also stronger.
“Hopes for a sustained improvement in client demand led firms to be optimistic in their outlook for business activity over the coming 12 months,” the authors said.
“More specifically, firms were looking to capitalise off of planned development work and upcoming renewable energy projects.”
“That said, the overall degree of confidence did falter slightly from February and remained below its long run average.”