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Rise in Northern Ireland sharper than UK economy average

Staff Writer |
The headline seasonally adjusted Business Activity Index in Northern Ireland posted 55.1 in May, up from 53.5 in April and signalling the fastest increase in output for three months.

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The rise in Northern Ireland was also sharper than the UK economy average. All four monitored sectors saw activity increase, with growth led by services where the rise was the fastest since January.

In line with the sharper rise in business activity, new order growth also accelerated in May. Some panellists indicated that marketing activity had aided their efforts to secure new work.

Meanwhile, new export orders rose strongly, with panellists reporting improved demand from other European countries, in particular Ireland. Higher new orders fed through to a further increase in backlogs of work, albeit one that was modest.

Companies in Northern Ireland responded to greater workloads and improved customer demand by taking on extra staff during May. Moreover the rate of job creation quickened and was the fastest in the year-to-date.

The rate of input cost inflation accelerated in May and was the sharpest since April 2017.

Higher fuel costs were widely mentioned, with sterling weakness again reportedly contributing to increases in raw material costs.

Manufacturers posted the sharpest rise in input prices as inflation hit a one-year high.

Companies responded to higher cost burdens by increasing their prices charged during the month.

The rate of inflation remained marked, despite easing to a ten-month low.

Despite dipping from April's record high, optimism regarding the 12-month outlook for activity remained strong in May.

New product launches, marketing and subsequent new order growth are all expected to support increases in activity.

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