NI private sector continues to grow, but at reduced rate
The Northern Ireland private sector is continuing to grow but at a reducing rate, research has suggested.
The Ulster Bank's monthly Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) tracks indicators such as new orders and employment.
Local firms continued to report rising levels of activity in May, but "a significant slowdown has been in evidence".
It also points to a "marked deterioration in business conditions" for the construction sector.
The bank's chief economist, Richard Ramsey, said a slowdown in the construction market in Great Britain "appears to have hit local firms hard".
Northern Ireland's largest construction firms do the bulk of their work in England and Scotland.
Mr Ramsey said the sector had seen its steepest decline in new orders since November 2012.
He added that the general slowdown across all sectors is likely to continue into the third quarter of the year.
"Much will depend on macro issues, including the performance of the UK economy and the forthcoming referendum on the UK's membership of the EU."