Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – ‘Exhausted’ but ‘hopeful’

This week’s title draws on the most popular words being used to describe 2020 and 2021 according to a recent survey. Well barring the expletives! The fight against the virus has left the world worn out but this has not prevented households and businesses from hoping for a better future, even when new challenges continue to arise. So it’s a hopeful note that we end our year on.

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Output falls at faster pace amid COVID-19 restrictions

Today sees the release of November data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – indicated that lockdown restrictions in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic resulted in declines in output and new orders. Employment also decreased, while inflationary pressures strengthened.

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Activity increases, but new orders take a step back

Today sees the release of August data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – indicated that although business activity increased for the second month running, the rate of expansion softened amid signs of a stalling in the recovery in new orders. There remained further evidence of spare capacity, which led to a sharper reduction in employment. The rate of cost inflation quickened, but firms lowered their selling prices to try and attract new business.

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Business activity returns to growth in July

Today sees the release of July data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – showed that companies in Northern Ireland increased their output amid signs of a recovery being underway following sharp falls earlier in the year. New orders also returned to growth, but employment continued to decline and firms were often required to lower selling prices in order to secure new work.

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Rate of decline in activity slows sharply in June

Today sees the release of June data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – indicated that the Northern Ireland private sector continued to be impacted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), seeing further reductions in output, new orders and employment. That said, rates of decline softened amid a loosening of lockdown restrictions.

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Severe declines in output and new orders recorded in April

Today sees the release of April data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – pointed to a severe contraction of the Northern Ireland private sector, and one that was by far the worst since the survey began in August 2002. Output and new orders were particularly badly affected amid company shutdowns, while confidence around the 12-month outlook continued to fall.

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Slightly sharper fall in activity in February

Today sees the release of February data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – signalled that the Northern Ireland private sector remained in contraction territory, and saw rates of decline in output and new orders quicken slightly from the start of the year. Business confidence also softened. One bright spot, however, was employment which increased for the third month running and to the greatest extent since November 2018.

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Business activity declines for tenth month running at end of 2019

Today sees the release of December data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – signalled further reductions in output and new orders, but rates of decline softened. Meanwhile, companies increased their staffing levels for the first time in a year and confidence regarding the 12-month outlook for activity improved amid reduced uncertainty around Brexit. On the price front, the rate of input cost inflation softened again and companies lowered their output prices for the first time in over four years.

December 2019 PMI Final PNG
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