Belfast Telegraph

Expert warns manufacturing faces a 'softening of demand' as output falls

By Ryan McAleer

Northern Ireland's manufacturing sector is facing "a softening of demand", according to an industry expert.

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Stephen Kelly, of Manufacturing NI', said: "The past two years have seen the best economic environment for firms to export and indeed sell to domestic markets since the financial crash, but it feels like that period of demand is now coming to an end."

The comments came as the UK's manufacturing output fell to its lowest level in more than two years during August amid a collapse in overseas demand.

The Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) showed a reading of 52.8 last month, down from 53.8 in July and well below economist expectations of 54. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

The figure represents a 25-month low and comes alongside job creation slowing to "near-stagnation" in the sector, and business optimism crashing to a 22-month low.

Mr Kelly said: "There is a softening of demand, particularly in areas where significant capital expense is required from customers.

"Forecasters believe one or more of the major economic areas, the US, EU and Asia, will begin to slow significantly at the end of this year and beginning of 2019."

Belfast Telegraph