Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – On the horizon

retail-1424043_1280.jpgYou can’t keep the UK shopper down. The retail sales figures for August are testament to that. Is a hike in interest rates on the way to cool things off?

Boom! UK shoppers hit the shops with gusto in August. The amount spent grew by 1.0%m/m and 5.6%y/y. The volume purchased, which adjusts the amount spent for inflation, rose 1.0%m/m and 2.4%y/y. Rising employment means more people are earning but that can’t account for retail sales growth. Either we dipped into our savings or we borrowed more. The Monetary Policy Committee will have noticed the rise in inflation to 3.2%. That will strengthen the hand of members who believe that the time for a rise in Bank Rate is coming closer. Continue reading

Sharpest rise in activity in 2017 so far

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Today sees the release of August data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The Northern Ireland private sector recorded faster rises in output and new orders during August, supporting further job creation. Sterling weakness played an important role in the local economy, helping firms to secure new export orders but also adding to inflationary pressures. Continue reading

Rate of job creation hits 13 month high

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Today sees the release of May data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – pointed to a pick-up in new order growth during May, supporting a further solid increase in output. The rate of job creation also accelerated as firms responded to current workloads and positive expectations around future new work. Meanwhile, both input costs and output prices rose at slower rates than in April. Continue reading

Sharpest rise in output so far in 2017

Today sees the release of April data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by Markit – signalled the strongest rise in business activity of the year-to-date, while new orders continued to increase solidly and companies were optimistic of further output growth over the coming year. Meanwhile, the rate of job creation accelerated. On the price front, both input costs and output charges continued to rise sharply. Continue reading

Activity rises solidly, but new order growth eases to five-month low

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Today sees the release of March data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by Markit – indicated that a solid rise in business activity ended a positive first quarter of the year. Further increases were also seen in new orders and employment. Meanwhile, rates of inflation remained elevated as a result of sterling weakness. Continue reading

Surge in NI exports, but private sector only sees marginal growth

Today sees the release of October data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by Markit – signalled that business activity returned to growth, although the rate of expansion was modest as total new orders were largely unchanged in spite of a substantial increase in exports. Export orders were supported by the weakness of sterling, but this also had the effect of pushing up input costs which rose substantially. Continue reading

Output and new orders stagnated during September

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Today sees the release of September data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by Markit – indicated that output and new orders stagnated amid a reluctance among customers to commit to spending. That said, companies continued to increase staffing levels. Meanwhile, the rate of input cost inflation remained sharp and output prices rose solidly again. Continue reading