Belfast Telegraph

Danske: Prepare for a year of slow growth across Northern Ireland economy

By Margaret Canning

Danske Bank has downgraded its growth forecast for the Northern Ireland economy for 2015 from 2.3% to 2.1%.

The bank said that while the economy had made progress in the last year, there would be pressures at home and further afield in the next 12 months.

Those factors included instability in the eurozone, the precariousness of politics in Northern Ireland, cuts to the block grant and the potential uncertainty created by the UK general election later in the year.

But factors which would buoy up the economy in Northern Ireland included growth of 3% and 2.8% for close neighbours and trading partners the Republic and Great Britain.

The bank predicted growth across a range of sectors from retail and wholesale, which would enjoy growth of 2.5%, manufacturing, which would grow by 2.7%, and construction, which would increase by 2.9%. Sub-sectors including IT and administration and support services would enjoy growth spurts of 5.7% and 4.7% respectively.

Danske Bank chief economist Angela McGowan said: "Northern Ireland's economy has come a long way and undoubtedly has great potential. Although uncertainties, challenges and risks always exist, it is imperative that we work together to address the key economic areas that we can influence and improve, such as our labour force, our infrastructure, our public services and overall competitiveness."

And despite the factors working against them, Danske Bank predicted that firms would benefit from factors such as a low inflation - which would encourage consumers to keeping spending - rising house prices, and low interest rates. Ms McGowan also predicted house price growth of 4% during 2015, roughly in keeping with the state of the market in 2014. But job creation would slow in 2015, growing at a rate of just 0.5% in 2015 compared to 2.3% in 2014.

Belfast Telegraph