Belfast Telegraph

Production output in Northern Ireland stagnant as consumer demand ebbs

By Staff Reporter

Output from the manufacturing sector in Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole is experiencing only weak growth as confidence wanes, it has been claimed.

The Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) showed a reading of 54.0 last month, lower than the 54.3 for June.

It was the lowest level for manufacturing PMI in three months and marked the weakest expansion rate in 16 months.

While a reading above 50 still indicates growth, economists were expecting a figure of 54.2.

The sector was hit by a slowdown in domestic demand, which offset stronger export orders from the likes of Europe, the US, China and the Middle East.

The strongest growth in both production and new orders was seen among investment goods producers, while consumer goods manufacturing also "fared relatively well".

Stephen Kelly, managing director of Manufacturing NI, said the findings of the survey reflected the province's performance - and the findings of its survey with law firm, Tughans, earlier this year.

"Demand is still there, but the rush has gone. Consumer and business confidence is waning, resulting in a slowing down across consumer and business to business customers.

"As reflected in our research alongside Tughans at the start of the summer, firms are calling out for political stability at home and in the UK, for some firm commitments on Brexit, a rapid investment in skills and increased efforts to tackle the cost of business."

Rob Dobson, a director at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey, said: "UK manufacturing started the third quarter on a softer footing, with rates of expansion in output and new orders losing steam. The upturn in the sector has eased noticeably since the back-end of 2017, meaning that manufacturing has failed to provide any meaningful boost to headline GDP growth through the year so far."

Belfast Telegraph

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