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News : Irish Economy Last Updated: Apr 4, 2014 - 10:21 AM

Irish Economy 2014: Services PMI accelerates in March but official data more muted
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Apr 3, 2014 - 8:16 AM

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Irish Economy 2014: Services PMI (purchasing managers' index) survey data issued Thursday shows  an acceleration in March but official data in recent months has been more muted.

The biggest services companies in Ireland such as Google and Microsoft book large chunks of their global revenues here and on Wednesday,  Pascal Saint-Amans, the OECD’s head of tax, said structures such as the “double Irish” that move profits from Ireland to tax havens will be eliminated. Besides, Central Statistics Office data on services, which has a panel of firms of 2,100 and its index showed an annual rise of 3.5% in January 2014.

The seasonally adjusted Business Activity Index  - - which is based on a single question asking respondents to report on the actual change in business activity at their companies compared to one month ago - - rose to 60.7 in March from 57.5 in February, to signal an acceleration in the rate of expansion in business activity. Panellists mainly attributed growth of activity to improving customer demand. Activity has now risen in each of the past 20 months.

Sentiment regarding the 12-month outlook for activity remained strongly positive in March, despite easing from the previous month. Further improvements in economic conditions are forecast, with stronger client sentiment and business expansion plans also expected to support growth of activity.

Markit said that as was the case with activity, new business increased at a sharper pace in March, with the rate of expansion the fastest in 2014 so far. Strengthening economic conditions both in Ireland and abroad was reportedly a key factor behind the latest rise. New export orders continued to increase at a considerable pace, with the UK and US markets the key sources of new business.

Increasing new orders contributed to a further accumulation of backlogs of work during March. Moreover, the pace of increase was faster than seen in February.

Staffing levels increased for the nineteenth successive month in March. The rate of job creation remained substantial, despite easing slightly from the previous month.

The rate of input cost inflation slowed in March and was the weakest since last October. The latest rise was also slower than the series average. Where input prices did increase, this was linked to higher salary payments.

Competitive pressures led to a decrease in output prices during March, the second in as many months. That said, the rate of decline was only slight. Apart from a marginal increase in January, prices charged have fallen in each month since August 2008.

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