Growth in services slows but sector is still expanding
The surge in activity in Irish services slowed in February, easing back from a five-year high, but the sector remains one of the fastest-growing parts of the economy.
The latest figures from NCB Stockbrokers' regular economic survey known as the purchasing managers index (PMI) shows that Irish service-providers recorded another increase in business activity in February, but grew at the slowest pace since August last year.
'Services' includes everything from banking and insurance to IT and advertising.
The sector was traditionally tied to the domestic economy but the latest growth in services is driven in large measure by exports of everything from contracts to handle computer software to architectural firms winning projects in the Middle East.
NCB's PMI data measures activity in the private sector based on a survey of managers. It rates activity on a pared down scale that swings either side of 50. Growth is recorded as a number above 50.
The headline business activity reading of 53.6 in February shows business continues to grow at a strong pace, though it has dropped back from the five-year high seen in January.
The services sector has expanded for seven months in a row and crucially the number of people working in the sector is growing, the new data shows.
All four of the main services sub-sectors – Business Services, Financial Services, Telecoms Media & Technology and Transport & Leisure recorded growth.
The main sour note in the latest results is a rise in input prices with utility and fuel costs cited as concerns by people surveyed.