Business activity declines for fourth month running

Today sees the release of August data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by S&P Global – indicated that the Northern Ireland private sector remained in contraction as demand continued to be impacted by intense price pressures. That said, there were further signs of inflation softening. Meanwhile, firms remained pessimistic about the year-ahead outlook and the rate of job creation softened to an 18-month low.

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New era of household austerity awaits

We’ve heard lots of recent comparisons between today and 1976, given the heatwaves and drought that affected both years, and that 2022 is the UK’s driest year since. But whilst we have recently been basking in sunshine and dealing with the impact of the warm weather, it is the cost of heat, light and food for households this winter that should be on all of our minds.

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Sharper fall in activity as price pressures hit demand

Today sees the release of July data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by S&P Global – signalled that declines in customer demand amid strong inflationary pressures led to further sharp reductions in output and new orders in the Northern Ireland private sector. Rates of inflation remained elevated over the month, despite showing signs of easing. The main positive from the latest survey was a further rise in employment.

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Accelerated decline in output during June as price pressures hit demand

Today sees the release of June data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by S&P Global – signalled that output and new orders both fell sharply as severe price pressures caused demand to contract. Business confidence also waned, but companies continued to expand their staffing levels.

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Activity continues to rise sharply, but inflationary pressures mount

Today sees the release of March data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by S&P Global – signalled further marked increases in output and new orders, although growth rates eased from February. Meanwhile, near-record increases in input costs and output prices were recorded, with the impact of stronger inflation leading to a sharp drop in confidence.

The NI private sector continued to show signs of growth in output, employment and order books in March, but there is no disguising the impact that the Ukraine / Russian conflict has had on business conditions. This has manifested itself in three key areas – escalating inflation, a slowdown in incoming business, and a significant dent to business confidence.

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Sharpest rise in new orders in over seven-and-a-half years

Today sees the release of February data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – pointed to improved growth momentum, with both new orders and business activity up sharply. Firms were only able to raise employment modestly, however, amid reports of difficulties sourcing staff. Meanwhile, rates of inflation remained elevated but showed further signs of easing.

With concerns over Covid-19 fading fast, NI’s private sector posted a surge in activity in February. Output hit an eight-month high, with all four sectors recording growth for the first time since June last year. Meanwhile, new orders rose at their fastest pace in seven-and-a-half years. Only construction, of the four sectors monitored, failed to record an uplift in new orders last month.

Despite robust demand, employment growth slowed to a 12-month low, with NI posting the slowest rate of job creation of the 12 UK regions. Clearly firms are struggling with skills shortages and are finding it difficult to get suitable candidates to help meet the demand.

Manufacturing was the best performer at a sector level by a significant margin. Output and orders in the sector expanded at record rates while manufacturing firms continued to increase their headcounts to cope with burgeoning order books and mounting backlogs.

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New orders rise for first time in five months

Today sees the release of January data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – signalled a positive start to 2022, with new orders returning to growth and output rising at an accelerated rate. That said, there were some signs of job creation easing and inflationary pressures remained pronounced.

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Output growth slows to nine-month low

Today sees the release of December data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – indicated that a reduction in consumer confidence amid the emergence of the Omicron variant led to a further decline in new orders, while growth of business activity was only fractional. Inflationary pressures remained elevated. On a more positive note, a further solid rise in employment was recorded and firms were optimistic regarding the outlook for output in 2022.

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Growth of activity quickens, but selling price inflation hits new record

Today sees the release of November data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – pointed to a pick-up in business activity amid signs of stabilisation in new orders and ongoing employment growth. That said, supply-chain problems continued to impact operations and inflationary pressures remained acute. In fact, output prices increased at the fastest pace on record.

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