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Sharp upturn in Northern Ireland business activity

Published 12/10/2015

People shopping in Belfast, as Ulster Bank's Purchasing Managers' Index showed an increase in new orders for private sector companies
People shopping in Belfast, as Ulster Bank's Purchasing Managers' Index showed an increase in new orders for private sector companies

Business activity in Northern Ireland experienced a sharp upturn last month, figures suggest.

An increase in new orders for private sector companies also saw more staff taken on, according to Ulster Bank's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI).

The index, which provides a benchmarked snapshot of the economic outlook, recorded the sharpest rise in output in 11 months.

The survey noted that lower commodity prices had resulted in a further easing in the rate of cost inflation in September, with output prices reducing at a steady pace.

Richard Ramsey, chief economist with Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland, said: " According to the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI, the private sector got off to a slow start at the beginning of 2015.

"However, the general trajectory since then has been one of improvement. Indeed, the rate of growth in business activity and new orders accelerated in the third quarter, relative to the previous three months.

"Meanwhile, local firms reported their first quarterly rise in export orders in Q3 since the same period last year. Private sector firms have now increased their staffing levels for the ninth consecutive quarter, albeit the pace of job creation eased.

"Interestingly, the third quarter represented the first time in four quarters that firms have posted growth in output, orders, exports and employment."

Mr Ramsey did strike a note of caution.

"Overall, the latest survey is littered with positive headlines," he said. "But equally there are also reasons for concern - not least the global economic slowdown which appears to be gathering momentum."

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