Today sees the release of April data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – signalled a mild acceleration in private sector business activity growth, while new orders continued to increase, albeit only marginally quicker than March’s 17-month low. Nonetheless, despite subdued demand pressures, backlogs of work increased further, prompting firms to hire additional staff. In line with a strong and accelerated rate of input cost inflation, businesses reported a further marked increase selling charges.
Today sees the release of April data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by Markit – signalled a further solid increase in output, supported by ongoing growth of new work.
That said, rates of expansion eased from the previous month. Meanwhile, the introduction of the National Living Wage was reported to have contributed to a quicker rate of cost inflation, with firms raising their output prices modestly.
Commenting on the latest survey findings, Richard Ramsey, Chief Economist Northern Ireland, Ulster Bank, said:
“Northern Ireland’s private sector notched up its twelfth consecutive month of growth in April. While the rates of expansion in business activity and new orders eased relative to the eighteen-month highs recorded in March, the pace of growth remained relatively strong. Furthermore, the rates of growth in new orders, business activity and employment amongst local firms exceeded the UK average. The UK’s private sector output expanded at its weakest growth rate in three years in April with the services and construction industries posting subdued rates of activity. Meanwhile UK manufacturing fell into contraction territory for the first time in over three years. The UK economic slowdown is somewhat concerning and if sustained will impact on Northern Ireland in due course.
The main findings of the April survey were as follows:
- The headline seasonally adjusted Business Activity Index posted 54.2 in April, down from 56.4 in March
- Activity has now risen on a monthly basis throughout the past year
- Northern Ireland output rose at a faster pace than seen across the UK as a whole
- New business also continued to expand at a solid pace in April
- Growth in new export business was maintained, with the rate of expansion ticking up slightly to the fastest in 21 months
- Higher output requirements led to a further increase in employment, extending the current sequence of growth to 15 months
- The rate of job creation accelerated to a three-month high
- The rate of input cost inflation quickened markedly and was the sharpest for two years
- Output prices also increased at a faster pace, with the rate of inflation slightly sharper than the UK average
Listen to a podcast about the latest PMI