NI private sector recovery 'improved' in April

The recovery of Northern Ireland's private sector moved up a gear in April, a survey of business has suggested.

The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) is a monthly survey of a panel of firms. It tracks indicators such as new orders, employment and exports.

In April, it showed the fastest rate of expansion in business activity and new orders since the survey began 12 years ago.

The data is produced by Ulster Bank.

The survey also points to increased levels of employment as companies responded to increasing workloads

Richard Ramsey, the bank's chief economist, said the survey shows Northern Ireland outperforming the UK on some key indicators but that it needed to be kept in context.

Encouraging

"It should be remembered that Northern Ireland's economic recovery, in terms of both output and employment, has lagged significantly behind that of the UK.

"Therefore, the local economy still faces a prolonged period of catch-up in the months and years ahead.

"However, it is encouraging to see that the recovery is gaining momentum."

Services, which are the largest part of Northern Ireland's private sector, showed the best performance.

Some of the companies surveyed said that higher salary payments had been a driver of increased input costs.

The construction sector posted the fastest rate of input price inflation for the fourth consecutive month, while inflation also picked up in the manufacturing and service sectors.

Despite the rate of cost inflation remaining strong, Northern Ireland companies raised their output prices at only a slight pace in April.

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