Munster firms scale back near-term expectations

Munster-based companies scaled back their near-term expectations for business activity and their hiring plans, last month, albeit to a lesser extent than firms in other regions of the country, according to data from Bank of Ireland.

“Sentiment was down in Munster and the rest of Ireland in November, as developments abroad and at home, over the past few months, took their toll,” according to Bank of Ireland’s group chief economist Dr Loretta O’Sullivan.

The bank’s latest monthly ‘economic pulse’ for Munster shows a slight 2.3 point drop to a reading of 86.2 for November.

Despite near-term reservations, however, 35% of R&D-focused Munster companies expect their spending levels in 2017 to be up on this year. This applies across a broad range of sectors — including food/beverages, pharmaceutical, computers/electronics and ICT.

On a consumer level, the latest pulse shows that one-in-three Munster households are upbeat about their finances and still think now is a good time to purchase big-ticket items, while three-quarters expect to spend similarly, or more, than last year on Christmas shopping.

“It is noteworthy that the unemployment rate in the South-West was down to 6.4% in the third quarter. This is lower than the national average and below the Dublin figure of 7.5%,” said Dr O’Sullivan.

Bank of Ireland’s wider nationwide economic pulse, published earlier this week, showed a drop in both consumer and business confidence in November.

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