Northern Ireland

Ulster Bank: NI economic recovery 'stalled since November'

Ulster Bank's chief economist, Richard Ramsey
Image caption Ulster Bank's chief economist, Richard Ramsey, said Northern Ireland's modest decline in private sector activity compares with growth in all of the other UK regions

The recovery in Northern Ireland's private sector has been "effectively stalled" since November, research by the Ulster Bank has suggested.

It carries out a monthly survey of firms that tracks indicators such as new orders, employment and exports.

The latest report for April suggested a modest deterioration in business conditions, as output and new orders declined following growth in March.

That was the fourth monthly decline in activity in the last five months.

New government

Ulster Bank's chief economist, Richard Ramsey, said Northern Ireland's modest decline in private sector activity compares with growth in all of the other UK regions.

Manufacturing continued to be a bright spot, with output growth and new orders rebounding to a 6-month high, driven by market demand in Great Britain.

By contrast, Northern Ireland retailers reported their sharpest decline in retail sales since May 2012 and the construction sector posted its largest fall in business activity in two years.

Mr Ramsey said that despite the apparent weakness suggested by the results, companies are continuing to hire staff.

"Despite uncertainty and lack of demand, local firms saw their staffing levels rise in April at the fastest rate in seven months. Employment growth was reported across all sectors with the exception of construction," he added.

Looking forward, he said that the detail of the new Conservative government's fiscal plans and economic policies "will affect all sectors of the economy both public and private".

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