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Business activity declines for tenth month in Northern Ireland

Christian Fernsby ▼ | January 14, 2020
The headline seasonally adjusted Business Activity Index rose to 44.2 in December from 42.3 in November, Ulster Bank by IHS Markit shows.
Northern Ireland street
Northern Ireland   The fall in output in Northern Ireland remained much sharper than the UK average
Although signalling a softer pace of decline than in the previous month, the latest reading indicated that output still fell markedly at the end of 2019.

Topics: Northern Ireland

A reluctance among customers to spend and uncertainty around Brexit continued to impact negatively on business activity.

The fall in output in Northern Ireland remained much sharper than the UK average.

New orders also fell again at Northern Ireland companies in December amid market uncertainty.

That said, the rate of decline was the softest since last May amid a weaker reduction in new business at service providers.

Further reductions in new orders meant that companies were again able to deplete backlogs of work in December.

The reduction in outstanding business was also helped by a marginal increase in employment.

The rise in staffing levels was the first in 12 months, and often attributed to the hiring of additional sales staff.

The rate of input cost inflation softened for the fourth successive month and was the weakest for three-and-a-half years.

That said, the rise was still marked amid reports of higher staff costs.

Meanwhile, companies in Northern Ireland lowered their selling prices for the first time since October 2015.

According to respondents, the modest reduction in charges reflected competitive pressures and efforts to increase market share.

Reduced Brexit uncertainty following the General Election and predictions of rises in new orders led to greater confidence among companies that output will increase over the course of 2020.

Optimism was the strongest since January 2019.


 

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