Belfast Telegraph

Danske predicts 'moderate' economy expansion will continue

By Margaret Canning

Manufacturers should see moderate growth of around 2% this year though global difficulties will inhibit export performance, Danske Bank has said.

The bank said the economy was growing at a moderate rate of 2% this year, a trend which would continue into 2016 with a slight rise to 2.2%.

But there were exterior risks overshadowing growth, the bank's quarterly sectoral forecast said today.

And the agri-food sector would shrink by 1.4% this year - and wouldn't pick up until the middle of next year. Political uncertainty in the province could in inhibit both investment from overseas and public sector spending on infrastructure.

And a slowdown in China, coupled with falling commodity prices, were also adding to the risks facing the economy. Angela McGowan, the bank's chief economist, described the economic expansion as "modest".

She welcomed growth in the housing market, construction, IT and services. But the agri-food sector was under pressure. "Global growth is weakening and Northern Ireland will not stay immune to the effects of this slowdown," she said.

On the plus side, companies were well-financed and housebuilding was increasing. Households were also spending more, thanks to low inflation.

But looking beyond Northern Ireland, the strong pound was weighing on exports, while fears of a potential exit by Britain from the EU was another factor which could put off potential investors, the economist said.

There was strong growth of 5.4% forecast for IT, with around 4% growth predicted for administration and support services.

Belfast Telegraph