Housing market slowdown underway?

One direction. Northern Ireland’s house price recovery is six-years old. For twenty-three of the last twenty-five quarters residential property prices have gone one way – up! Despite this significant run of steady price rises, less than one-third of the 57% drop in prices that occurred between Q3 2007 and Q1 2013 has been recouped so far.  As of Q2 2019, local house prices were still 39% below Q3 2007’s ‘freak peak’.

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Northern Ireland Economic Output hits a ten-and-a-half-year high

The latest Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index confirmed that the local economy notched up its sixth successive quarter of growth in Q1 2019. The 0.3% q/q rise marked an improvement on Q4 2018’s lacklustre growth rate of just 0.1%. While the rate of growth in the latest quarter was perhaps stronger than expected, it still represents a rather weak rate of expansion. Meanwhile the annual rate of growth slowed from 1.8% y/y in Q4 to 1.5% in Q1 2019.

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New car sales up and down in June?

(up in Q2 y/y but down y/y in June)

New car sales are traditionally viewed as a key barometer of consumer confidence. Despite the labour market being the strongest it has ever been, consumer confidence – viewed through the lens of new car sales – remains uninspiring. Last month proved to be the weakest June for dealers in seven years with 5,170 new vehicles rolling out of showrooms. That was six per cent lower than last year. However, the latest figures follow the best May in 11 years and a mediocre April.  As a result, the second quarter still posted a respectable 2.7% y/y rise (+369 cars) and the strongest Q2 in three years.

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Chart of the month: House prices – a tale of three cities

A graph charting instances of house prices being discussed at dinner parties across Belfast and Dublin would show a very large spike around 2007 followed by a deep trough in the years after the boom rediscovered gravity. Indeed, the subject became almost taboo as the downturn unfolded and residential property prices fell almost 60% from their respective peaks.

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Private sector flat or expanding?

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Robust growth, according to PMI – The last few days has seen a flurry of surveys released on the health of the Northern Ireland economy. Ulster Bank’s PMI pointed to robust growth across the private sector in Q4 2017. The Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) for the same period was not quite as positive as the PMI.  Nevertheless, both manufacturing and services firms reported growth in the final quarter of 2017. Overall, the performance was more encouraging for the manufacturing sector than for services firms. Continue reading

The highs and lows of Northern Ireland economic statistics

This is an important week for understanding what has been going on within the Northern Ireland economy. We had four surveys released yesterday by NISRA – two on the labour market and two on private sector output. Within them, there was a variety of highs and lows, some of which are positive and some of which are concerning.  For the labour market, the two key releases were the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES).  The latter is the most closely watched survey of the number of jobs in the economy. Meanwhile the other two surveys shed light on private sector output in the third quarter. These were the Index of Services and the Index of Production (industrial production / manufacturing output). So what do they tell us about the local economy? Continue reading

NI house-building recovery running out of steam?

starts and completions

The UK housing market is tipped to feature prominently in the Chancellor’s Budget. A range of initiatives are expected to be unveiled, targeted primarily at the younger generation. There are calls for a shift in emphasis from ‘Help to Buy’ to ‘Help to Build’ schemes. It remains to be seen how Northern Ireland will benefit from these. But it’s worth considering how the Northern Ireland housing building sector is currently faring. Continue reading

Job creation slows as Brexterity beckons…

A raft of data emerged from the Department for the Economy today. The most significant release was the Quarterly Employee Survey (QES) for Q2 2017 -a comprehensive survey of the actual number of jobs in the economy.  This is more closely watched than the Labour Force Survey which looks at people working in some shape or form (paid, unpaid, self-employed, voluntary etc). Continue reading