Monday 23 October 2017

Company bosses 'significantly more upbeat' about prospects

IBEC survey shows recovery in sentiment

Economist Fergal O’Brien believes the trend towards growth will continue.
Economist Fergal O’Brien believes the trend towards growth will continue.
Thomas Molloy

Thomas Molloy

COMPANIES are "significantly" more upbeat about their prospects, according to a new survey by lobby group IBEC.

The most dramatic change in business sentiment over the past three months took place among non-exporting companies as improvements in the domestic economy began to lift the fortunes of local companies, according to the IBEC survey of company directors.

The sales outlook of Irish firms improved for the fourth consecutive quarter with a recovery in sentiment in both services and manufacturing sectors.

Managers are now confident about the outlook for the next three months for the first time since the index began tracking sentiment in the dark days of 2009.

The new survey also shows that fewer companies operating in the domestic market now plan to reduce staff, while 27pc of exporters plan to take on new staff in the next three months.

Recent figures from the Central Statistics Office show that employment in the first quarter of the year rose 0.5pc – an increase that was predicted by IBEC's last quarterly report.

If the latest report is correct, employment in the private sector could have risen again in the second quarter and may continue to rise throughout the rest of the year.

RECOVERY

"At last we are seeing firm signs of a domestic recovery. While the environment remains challenging, companies are looking to the future with a increasing sense of optimism," said IBEC economist Fergal O'Brien.

"Over recent months, we have started to see the economy re-balance, with the domestic sector contributing to growth. The survey suggests this trend will continue."

The three-month outlook across all sectors climbed into positive territory for the first time in the history of the series while managers' confidence in the prospects for their own business improved for both the present and three-month outlook.

Exporters' confidence remains at a high level. While companies that export have been positive for some time, companies operating in the domestic sector have struggled until recently.

The new survey seems to lend weight to other data that shows companies reliant on the local economy are finally enjoying a change in fortunes.

"While the domestic economy has disappointed in the first half of the year, the next six months should see an improvement," said Mr O'Brien. "This is good news for job prospects, given that so many companies operate primarily in the Irish market."

Irish Independent

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