Northern Ireland business picks up momentum going into second half of 2015

Manufacturing and services increase activity, construction and retail sees decline

Mark Hilliard

Business sentiment in Northern Ireland is improving following a disappointing first quarter and the private sector remains in expansion, according to June data.

A Market report produced for Ulster Bank shows output growth has been maintained and new orders have accelerated although job creation has eased.

"As we pass the half way mark of 2015, it is clear that the first half of the year ended much more positively than it started," said Richard Ramsey, chief economist Northern Ireland at Ulster Bank, said in response to the survey.

“Then, Northern Ireland’s private sector was reporting falling levels of output, new orders, exports and employment.

“After a disappointing first quarter, however, business sentiment has improved markedly. Whilst the economic recovery is not as robust as we would like it to be, it is nevertheless encouraging to note that firms are still in expansion mode. The private sector now has more momentum going into the second half of the year than it had a few months ago.”

The headline seasonally adjusted business activity index posted above the 50.0 no-change mark for the second month running in June, although the index dipped slightly to 52.3 from 52.7 to signal a weaker pace of expansion.

The manufacturing and service sectors posted increases in activity, while declines were seen at construction and retail companies. Total new business also increased for the second consecutive month, with the rate of expansion quickening to the fastest since last September.