Services sector enjoys modest rise in activity
THERE was a modest rise in the amount of activity in the Irish services sector in November, according to the latest PMI figures from NCB Stockbrokers. And while job losses continue in Ireland in the UK, job creation hit the highest level in 18 years.
In fact Europe-wide data shows a huge gulf between countries across the continent, with Germany and the UK powering ahead of Spain's shrinking economy and Irish services remaining flat.
The overall Irish service sector PMI number fell to 50.8 for November, down from 50.9 in October.
The index measures activity on a scale either side of 50. Declines are recorded from 50 down and increases from 50 up, which means that the 50.8 number reflects modest growth and is enough to push the index into positive territory for a 15th month running.
In the eurozone as a whole, the PMI index beat expectations and rose to 55.5 in November compared to 53.8 in October
The Irish growth figures were led by a rise in new orders from abroad. According to NCB, the technology, media and telecoms sector led the way in terms of growth.
The sector also saw a rise in profitability over the past three months, reversing the previous trend. There was no such turnaround for the financial sector which saw profits fall at the fastest rate since August over the last month.
Other key measures were mixed: falling input costs, including wages, were offset by a falling number of people at work and a decline in the overall amount of new business. With the IMF in Government Buildings and more austerity on the way, business confidence is unsurprisingly at the lowest level since April 2009.
Even so confidence remains positive, if though only just. Businesses continue to shed jobs but the rate of losses was lower in November than in October.
Elsewhere in Europe output is rising fastest in Germany, where the rate of growth is now close to 2007 levels. France is also seeing positive momentum despite recent labour unrest.
Politicians in Italy will be glad to see the country at number three in terms of growth, making it easier to distance themselves from the fall in activity in Spain and the modest Irish growth. Germany, France and Italy all recoded rises in service sector employment over the past month.
In the UK, job creation in November was at the highest level in 18 years, according to combined services, manufacturing and construction figures. According to research firm Market, around 10,000 manufacturing jobs were created in the UK in March alone.