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Orders best in over six years

EXPORT orders are the strongest in over six years, providing a boost for the services sector.

The sector grew for the fifth successive month in December, according to the NCB Purchasing Managers' Index of activity.

Although the rate of growth was listed at 55.8 last month, a drop from 56.1 in November, it stayed well above the 50 line.

December's figure, the third-highest in five years, was far stronger than the eurozone average of 47.8 in flash data.

"With respondents across all four components indicating that they are upbeat about the outlook, as has been the case for seven months running, we would expect to see the positive trends continue into this year," said NCB's Philip O'Sullivan.