Businesses optimistic as activity keeps rising in July
Business activity in the Northern Ireland economy continued to grow in July, with companies relatively optimistic about the near future, according to a survey today.
The Ulster Bank purchasing managers index (PMI) for July revealed another month of growth for the private sector, with output, orders and employment all rising.
Firms were succeeding in attracting work from the Republic thanks to the continued weakness of the pound.
But Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said Northern Ireland's expansion was lacklustre compared to the rest of the UK, with the province claiming the second-weakest rate of business activity after the north-east of England.
The pace of job creation across all sectors slipped to a six-month low - however, inflationary pressures were easing, while some growth rates also eased.
Mr Ramsey said: "The theme of easing is becoming evident in some sectors more than others.
"Manufacturing output growth eased to a 14-month low, while employment fell for the first time in six months. But context is important here, with manufacturing firms experiencing a period of rapid expansion over the last six to nine months.
"A slowdown is relative to these strong rates of growth. Furthermore, order books are growing at a rapid rate by historical standards."
On the whole, the outlook was optimistic. "Despite the ongoing political and Brexit-related uncertainty, Northern Ireland's private sector remains relatively upbeat. Almost one-third of firms expect to have more work in 12 months' time than they do currently. Indeed, optimists currently outnumber pessimists by more than two to one on this front."