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Growth eases, but recovery still strongest

THE economy grew by 3.5pc between July and September compared to the same time last year, but the pace of growth is easing, official data shows.

Compared with the second quarter the economy virtually stagnated, with gross domestic product (GDP) rising by just 0.1pc.

The year-on-year increase of 3.5pc is considerably lower than the 7.3pc recorded in the second quarter.

But analysts described the figures as impressive and expressed no concern over the slow quarter-on-quarter data.

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Finance Minister Michael Noonan (right) said that despite some risks, the economy remains on track to eke out growth of 4.7pc this year.

Davy Stockbrokers said the economy is set to grow by 5pc this year, despite the flat figures.

"The flat growth in the third quarter is not too concerning, reflecting volatility in the data and with other indicators suggesting that the recovery has continued through the second half of 2014," said Davy analyst Conal MacCoille.

Alan McQuaid of Merrion Stockbrokers predicted GDP for the year as a whole to be slightly softer than other forecasts, at around 4.5pc.

"Although the Eurozone as a whole is struggling, Ireland has benefited from its close trading ties with the US and UK, two of the strongest performers on the world stage this year," he said.

"Competitiveness gains made against the rest of euro-land in recent years have also helped, but the most encouraging aspect is the pick-up in domestic demand."

Business body Ibec said the figures were weaker than expected.

"Taking the first nine months of the year together, however, the recovery is still by far the strongest in Europe," Ibec chief economist Fergal O'Brien said.


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