Business activity drops in North
THE problems in the Northern Ireland economy were laid bare yesterday after the purchasing managers' index (PMI) there fell at the fastest rate for three months during October, despite the UK posting its strongest growth in the same period.
The adjusted Business Activity Index was 44.1 in October, down from 45.3 the previous month. That contrasted sharply with the 54.9 posted by the UK as a whole.
The PMI measures the strength of business in a single number. Over 50 means business activity is growing, less than 50 means it is contracting.
Employee numbers continued to fall. Ulster Bank, which compiles the PMI along with Markit, said it was likely that job losses reflected the fall in new business. Private sector input costs increased "sharply", with higher fuel costs cited as a key constraint on companies.
Ulster Bank's chief economist for the North, Richard Ramsey, said the fall in the PMI was evidence of divergence between the North and Britain.
"There has been only one month during the last 35 when Northern Ireland firms have not posted a fall in business output. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are expected to under-perform going forward."