Business sentiment in North drops to record low on Brexit

Ulster Bank survey indicates sharp fall in output, orders and employment

 

Business sentiment dropped to a “new record low” in the North last month as Brexit was blamed for a sharp fall in output, orders and employment, a new report shows.

According to the Ulster Bank PMI report for September the North’s private sector yet again contracted during the month as firms blamed a drop in activity to “Brexit uncertainty” and also highlighted that customers were “reluctant” to sign up to new projects.

The report also noted that the fall in new orders in Northern Ireland was at a fastest rate than compared to declines also recorded in other regions in the UK.

According to the PMI report lower output was recorded across all four key sectors of the Northern Ireland economy but the services sector declined by the “greatest extent since the end of 2012”.

Richard Ramsey, Ulster Bank’s chief economist in Northern Ireland, said the fact that export orders fell in the North to a 97 month low illustrates that global demand is generally weakening.

“It is the seventh consecutive month that private sector output has fallen here, and the fifth month that all sectors have been in decline.

“Perhaps most notably, construction saw the fastest rates of decline in output, and new orders in the sector are now at an 82-month low. The manufacturing sector also reported its fastest pace of job losses in over 10 years. Looking ahead, Northern Ireland is the only UK region where firms expect output to be lower in 12-months’ time. This reflects the lack of confidence in the local private sector at present resulting from a range of factors, not least ongoing Brexit uncertainty,” Mr Ramsey added.

The latest Ulster Bank PMI report also shows that businesses in the North were hit hard by both “sterling weakness and higher staff costs “ during September which led to higher input prices while output prices also rose and inflation was seen across all four key sectors