Latest Irish data point to tentative economic recovery
Another slew of economic data released today pointed to tentative signs of recovery in the Irish economy.
Following on from yesterday’s better-than-expected exchequer figures, data for the Irish services industry showed the sector expanded again in December for the fifth successive month.
The latest NCB Stockbrokers purchasing managers’ index, the most reliable measure of activity in the sector, showed new export orders rose at their sharpest level since September 2006.
The figures also showed the rate of job creation in the sector grew for the fourth successive month to remain at a five-year high.
Separately, Live Register figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) today indicated the number of people claiming unemployment benefits continues to fall.
The seasonally adjusted register, which also includes casual and part-time workers, fell by 1,400 to 430,900 in December.
While the numbers claiming benefits has now fallen by 11,051 in 12 months, the standardised rate of unemployment remains stubbornly high at 14.6 per cent.
A breakdown of the figures also showed the number of long-term claimants on the register in December was 187,144, up 6,346 or 3.5 per cent on this time last year.
The fragility of the domestic economy was further evidenced by data from the Central Bank which showed loans to Irish households fell at an annual rate of 3.6 per cent in November.
The data also showed private sector deposits fell by €1.6 billion on a month-on-month basis in November, a figure that was in line with Government data released last month.
Markit's Eurozone Composite PMI, which gauges business activity across the euro area, also rose in December to 47.2 from 46.5 in November.
While lingering below the 50 line dividing growth from contraction for an 11th month, December's reading was the highest since March last year, leading some economists to predict the worst of the recession may be over.
Europe’s power house economy Germany saw activity in its private sector expand for the first time in eight months in December on the back of a bounce in the services sector.