North sees faster growth in new orders and output

Business activity in North has had its sharpest increase for more than a year, according to index

Business activity in the North has experienced its sharpest increase for more than a year, according to new figures.

Faster rates of growth for output, new orders and employment for private sector companies were recorded in the Ulster Bank Purchasing Managers’ Index for January.

Richard Ramsey, chief economist Northern Ireland, Ulster Bank, said: "January's incoming economic and financial market news had more than its fair share of doom and gloom. While business conditions have deteriorated within a global context, Northern Ireland's private sector has reported a very encouraging start to the new year."

Sector data showed widespread rises in output, led by the services sector. Retail reported increases in orders and staffing levels.

Construction firms have also continued to show signs of improvement with more output and orders.

Manufacturing still remains a key area of concern, with companies reporting a modest rise in output in January but a slump in new orders.

Mr Ramsey said: “As the global economic news looks set to remain downbeat, this will likely impact on the Northern Ireland manufacturing sector during the course of 2016.”