Growth in Northern Ireland private sector but concerns at inflation
The business landscape in Northern Ireland remains "encouraging" despite Brexit uncertainty as the private sector saw a fresh pick-up last month
The latest purchasing managers' survey with Ulster Bank shows growth in the economy, fuelled by a strong construction sector in November.
Firms saw further solid increases in output and new orders during November, with rates of expansion in both slightly quicker than those recorded in October.
More companies are continuing to take on additional staff as a result of an overall economic improvement.
"With just one month remaining, it is clear that 2017 has been a very good year for Northern Ireland's private sector," Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said.
"The rates of growth in output, new orders and employment are all higher in 2017 than the previous year and represented the fastest rates of growth in three years."
He said that while export orders are broadly in line with 2016's rate of expansion, it "should be noted that the pace of export growth has slowed in each of the last four quarters".
"On a more negative note, 2017 has witnessed a surge in inflationary pressures.
"Input cost inflation hit a six-month high in November with retailers experiencing an 80-month high. 2017's cost pressures are the most intense that businesses have faced in six years.
"Pressures on margins have meant the prices charged for goods and services have been increased significantly.
"Output price inflation in 2017 has been the most marked in the last 15 years."