Belfast Telegraph

Video: Business activity in Northern Ireland grows at steepest rate for a decade

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland's economy recovery sped up in November in some rare good news for the economy.

Business activity and new orders grew at their steepest rate in nearly 10 years, according to a respected survey.

Companies in manufacturing, construction and services were all sharing in the uplift, Ulster Bank's purchasing managers' index (PMI) has revealed.

It meant our companies were starting to keep up with the UK's economic resurgence, according to Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey (right).

The economist said: "Northern Ireland businesses reported a marked acceleration in business activity in November and extended the current run of growth to five successive months."

New export orders also rose at a quicker pace during November – in fact, at the quickest pace since October 2007.

However, the Ulster Bank PMI survey also said costs were going up faster than the UK average, and job creation had slowed down slightly.

But overall, November was marking a new purple patch for the economy. Mr Ramsey said: "The business activity index crossed the 60 mark for only the second time in the survey's 11-year history and represented the fastest rate of growth since March 2004."

The sharpest increase was experienced by services firms.

In fact, the services industry – which encompasses businesses from accountancy firms and law firms to restaurants – had its best month since the credit crunch began.

Overall, the survey showed that businesses are in "turnaround" mode – and there were no signs the pick-up in activity would fade.

Backlogs in work were at their highest since the survey began 11 years ago, with manufacturing and service firms struggling to meet demand at present levels.

The Autumn Statement reported the biggest upward revision in growth forecasts in 14 years.

This year's UK growth was revised up from 0.6% to 1.4%. For next year, it was been upgraded from 1.8% to 2.4%.

Northern Ireland companies also said prices were going up as inflation was faster than across the UK as a whole.

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