Fastest rise in activity in almost 2.5 years

The latest Ulster Bank NI PMI is out this morning. It signalled that the rate of growth in business activity at Northern Ireland companies quickened sharply at the end of 2016 and was the strongest in almost two-and-a-half years.

The rise in output reflected a second successive marked increase in new business, with new export orders expanding substantially again.

Meanwhile, input costs continued to rise sharply and output prices increased to the greatest extent since August 2008.

Here are the key findings:

  • The headline seasonally adjusted Business Activity Index rose to 58.7 in December from 54.5 in November, thereby signalling a sharp and accelerated increase in output.
  • The latest expansion was the sharpest in almost two-and-a-half years.
  • Total new orders rose for the second month running in December, and at a sharp pace.
  • A number of respondents highlighted the impact of sales to clients in the Republic of Ireland, linked to sterling weakness.
  • New export orders increased considerably and at a pace second only to the series record posted in November.
  • With new orders increasing, outstanding business was accumulated for the second successive month.
  • The rate of job creation, meanwhile, quickened to a three-month high at the end of 2016.
  • While sterling weakness helped firms to secure new orders, it also continued to impact on cost burdens in December.
  • Input prices rose sharply again, albeit at a weaker pace than in November.
  • A number of respondents passed on higher costs to clients, thereby resulting in a further rise in output prices.
  • Moreover, the rate of charge inflation quickened to the fastest since August 2008.

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Download the full Ulster Bank NI PMI report.

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