Noonan 'very pleased' with tax haul as manufacture sector slows
FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan has described November's Exchequer returns as being very strong.
But the positive comments ahead of today's publication were tempered by new data showing the rate of growth in the manufacturing sector had eased.
The minister, below, said he was "very pleased" and that the latest figures for the amount of tax paid confirms what he had been hearing anecdotally.
The external prospects for Ireland are the "most benign" for years, and economic conditions are improving, he said.
Today's Exchequer returns are eagerly awaited because they give a clear indication of how the self-employed are faring.
But seperate data shows that the rate of expansion in the manufacturing sector eased last month, as both output and new orders increased at weaker rates.
While new orders rose for the fifth successive month, the rate of growth slowed sharply, according to the latest Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) from specialist bank Investec.
The headline rate remained in growth territory, however, registering 52.4 in November. But this was down from 54.9 in the previous month.
This signalled a further improvement in business conditions, although it was the weakest in three months.
Anything above 50 indicates expansion, while below that signals contraction.
Investec economist Philip O'Sullivan said while the rate of growth had softened in November, October's reading was the highest in two and a half years.
"The overall pace of expansion in both new orders and new export orders softened last month," Mr O'Sullivan said. "While this move is unwelcome, we take some comfort from the fact that five out of every six respondents reported either increased or unchanged new export orders during November, while three quarters of respondents reported either increased or unchanged new orders.
"Respondents who reported growth from overseas markets chiefly attributed this to the US and UK."
Employment continued to increase in November, with the rate of job creation only slightly weaker than October's 16-month high.
Staffing levels have increased continuously since June, with respondents reporting that higher new orders had been behind the rise in employment.
The survey is based on data compiled from monthly replies to questionnaires sent to purchasing executives in around 285 industrial companies across the country.
Purchasing Managers' Indices are watched closely by analysts and are regarded as reliable forward-looking indicators of activity in the economy.
It comes as buoyant demand for manufactured goods drove eurozone factory activity to accelerate at its fastest pace in more than two years last month and allowed firms to build up a small backlog of work.
But that growth was still weak and Markit, compiler of the Purchasing Managers' Indexes for the eurozone, said evidence of a renewed downturn in France and Spain –- as well as firms cutting staff – was disappointing.
British manufacturing grew at its strongest pace in almost three years in November adding to signs that the UK's economic upturn is gaining momentum.