Northern Ireland firms see 'marginal increase' in business activity
Northern Ireland's private sector saw a "marginal" increase in business activity in March, ending a three-month sequence of decline, according to a survey.
Despite a slowdown in recovery, firms have taken on extra staff in recent months.
The Ulster Bank survey monitors a panel of firms to give a monthly snapshot of the local economy.
It said the rate of growth in new orders remained "very weak".
The strength of the pound against the euro "is an issue affecting demand," the bank's chief economist Richard Ramsey said.
"The exchange rate is likely to remain an issue affecting export price competitiveness for the foreseeable future," he added.
Northern Ireland's recovery continues to lag behind the rest of the UK.
Mr Ramsey said: "Businesses and individuals face challenges and uncertainty in the months ahead.
"Not least in relation to what happens with tax and public spending after the forthcoming general election."