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News : Irish Economy Last Updated: May 7, 2014 - 9:32 AM

Irish Economy 2014: Services PMI highest since 2007 in April; Diverges from official data
By Finfacts Team
May 6, 2014 - 6:03 AM

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Irish services PMI (purchasing managers' index) data increased sharply again in April to the highest since February 2007 as new business rose at the fastest pace since September 2006 amid a general strengthening of economic conditions. Steeper rates of expansion were also recorded in employment and outstanding business during the month.  However, official data published in early April showed that the CSO services index for February fell 2.9% and the annual increase was only 1.9% while the PMI showed rises in activity and new business - -  the biggest Irish services companies Google and Microsoft divert significant chunks of their global revenues to Ireland for tax avoidance purposes.

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 – continued to increase in April, rising to 61.9 from 60.7 in the previous month. Growth was the fastest since February 2007 and activity has now risen in each of the past 21 months. Respondents widely linked the latest rise in activity to higher new business.

Signs of improvement in the wider economy led to ongoing optimism with regards to the prospects for further growth of activity over the coming year. Sentiment was slightly higher than in the previous month.

The rate of expansion in new business accelerated for the second month running in April, and was the sharpest since September 2006. Some respondents mentioned signs of improvement in the housing market, while a general strengthening of economic conditions was seen as the main factor driving new order growth. The rate of expansion in new export orders also quickened and was one of the fastest in the series history. A number of respondents indicated that the UK had been a source of new business.

Rising new business led to a further accumulation of backlogs of work, extending the current sequence of increasing work-in-hand to 11 months. Moreover, the rate of accumulation was substantial and the strongest since March 2007.

Service providers raised employment again as part of attempts to cope with higher workloads. Some panellists reported that they had needed to raise employment in order to maintain a good quality of service for clients. The rate of job creation was substantial, and the fastest in seven-and-a-half years.

Input price inflation quickened slightly in April, with a number of respondents linking higher cost burdens to increased salary payments.

In response to rising input costs, companies increased their prices charged. The rise was the first in three months, but only marginal as most panellists left their output prices unchanged.

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