Invest NI customers report continued positive trends in business outputs

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David Roberts, Invest NI Economist
Aug 07, 2015

Through our Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) we are continuing to keep abreast of business conditions and activity within a core group of our customers. This information helps us to understand how economic conditions might be impacting the businesses we are working with.

Continued growth in output

Since our last report at the end of quarter one, we have seen continued growth in output, orders and new employment amongst the businesses we survey. Interestingly, the rise in output within the companies we are working with was much faster than that signalled by the monthly Ulster Bank survey of Northern Ireland as a whole. Our customers are citing a general improvement in market conditions as the main factor for this increase.

Output and Employment quarter 2 2015

Increase in new business orders

53 per cent of the businesses we surveyed registered a rise in new business.

Stronger economic conditions were also reported as the principle cause for higher new business orders. 53 per cent of the businesses we surveyed registered a rise in new business. This increase in new orders was also seen across Northern Ireland as a whole in the Ulster Bank survey, but the rate of that increase was much faster amongst our customers.

This increase in new orders has seen our customers take on more staff resulting in the rate of job creation being much higher than that seen across Northern Ireland as a whole. This increase in staff naturally has an impact on business costs and is cited as the main reason for higher input prices amongst the businesses we spoke to.

Export performance

While the Northern Ireland private sector as a whole noted a slight decline in new export orders, our customers recorded an increase. That said, businesses did say that the strength of sterling against the euro was having an impact on new export business, showing again how macro conditions can have a significant impact on the value of our export business.

Our customers continue to remain positive about the future, with approximately 80 per cent of companies expecting activity to increase of the coming year.

Read our latest PMI report for quarter two 2015 (PDF).

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