Private sector saw fastest growth in six months during July

By John Campbell
BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor

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The good weather was cited as a factor in private sector growth during July

The private sector in Northern Ireland saw its fastest growth in six months during July, data from Ulster Bank has suggested.

The bank surveys private sector activity monthly, in what is considered a reliable indicator of the economy.

The pick-up in business activity in July was broad-based with all sectors, except manufacturing, reporting faster rates of output growth.

The good weather was cited as a factor supporting demand across all sectors.

Richard Ramsey, Ulster Bank's chief economist, said: "Northern Ireland's private sector started the third quarter where it left off in June with output and new orders growth accelerating in July.

"This was the fourth month in a row that the pace of activity picked-up, with both these indicators hitting six-month highs."

However, he said that the ongoing weakness of sterling was continuing to stoke inflation.

"Inflationary pressures also remain a key cause of concern amongst businesses.

"With sterling depreciating further since the survey was conducted, we can expect inflationary pressures to continue to feature prominently as an issue in the coming months."

Mr Ramsey also suggested that the strong growth in the local jobs market is beginning to level off.

"Local firms have been increasing their headcount for the last three-and-a-half years. However, the pace of job creation eased to a twelve-month low in July due to reduced hiring within manufacturing and services."