Northern Ireland

Sunshine factor in business performance

sunflowers
Image caption Early summer sunshine led to vigorous growth in the Northern Ireland economy

Growth in the Northern Ireland private sector eased in August after a strong performance in June and July, Ulster Bank data has suggested.

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

The August survey saw overall business activity expand at its weakest rate since April.

Manufacturing saw the strongest performance with a notable growth in new orders.

The bank's chief economist, Richard Ramsey, said the weather again appears to have had an influence.

Image caption Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said August saw something of a slowdown

"In the early part of 2018, the Beast from the East disrupted business activity, therefore impacting on output.

"More recently, the incredibly good weather has been cited as a major factor behind faster rates of growth in the private sector during June and July.

"Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the milder weather, August saw something of a slowdown."

Mr Ramsey said it would become clearer in the coming months if the latest slowdown is simply an easing back from June and July's weather-related high or whether an underlying weakness was emerging.

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