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Economic activity in Northern Ireland rises 1% over the year



Warning: Mark Carney

Warning: Mark Carney

Warning: Mark Carney

Economic activity in Northern Ireland grew by 0.3% in the second quarter, according to a report.

And year on year, the Northern Ireland composite economic index (NICEI), which is roughly equivalent to GDP, had grown by 1% from the second quarter of 2018 to second quarter of 2019.

However, output from Northern Ireland's building firms fell by 5.6% in the second quarter of the year.

The Northern Ireland construction bulletin said output was down 1.5% on the same quarter a year before, as well as plummeting 5.6% on the first quarter.

However, the volume of construction output has been increasing gradually since the end of 2013, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) said.

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Meanwhile, the UK economy contracted by 0.1% in August, according to the Office for National Statistics. The fall in output compares with month-on-month growth of 0.3% in July.

Dr Esmond Birnie, senior economist at the Ulster University Business School, said the NICEI gave some cause for optimism. But he added: "Northern Ireland's measured growth over the year to quarter two 2019 was only 1% (consistent with what a number of the economic forecasting models have told us).

"Compared to the 1.3% UK average, the economy here has been lagging.

"Northern Ireland's performance has been very volatile in the NICEI with output declines in the eight of the last 26 quarters."

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said the UK economy is growing modestly, but warned a no-deal Brexit would weaken expansion further.

Mr Carney said: "The underlying pace of the economy is growing, but it's just very modest."

He added: "That pace of growth which is already weak would weaken further from a no-deal Brexit."

The ONS figures showed robust expansion in the services sector helped offset a drop in manufacturing activity. Services output grew 0.4% in the three months to July, while manufacturing dropped 0.4% and construction edged 0.1% higher.

Rob Kent-Smith, head of GDP at the ONS, said: "Growth increased in the latest three months, despite a weak performance across manufacturing, with TV and film production helping to boost the services sector."

The pound was 0.2% higher at 1.223 US dollars after the data, but continued to weaken against the euro, down 0.3% to 1.11 euros. But the monthly GDP figures showed a painful August, with services output flat-lining, manufacturing falling 0.7%, agriculture down 0.1% and construction the only bright spot with a 0.2% rise.