Services sector ends year on a high

The country’s services sector finished 2015 on a considerable high with three times as many firms reporting an increase in business activity in December, against those posting a decline.

The latest services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) from specialist bank, Investec — seen as being the key barometer of the sector — shows a reading of 61.8 for December; well above the neutral 50 mark but down on November’s reading of 63.6.

However, November was the strongest month since June 2006 and December’s reading pushes the pattern of unbroken growth for the Irish services industry to three and a half years.

“Within the survey we see evidence that improving conditions, both at home and abroad, are supporting growth in new business,” noted Investec Ireland’s chief economist, Philip O’Sullivan.

“The New Business index was little changed in December, while data for the components of the services sector that are captured by this report — business services, financial services, TMT, and transport and leisure — show that all four simultaneously recorded growth in new business for a 31st successive month.

"While the New Export Orders index slowed in December, it remains well above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction and we are encouraged by the breadth of overseas demand, with panellists reporting rising new business from the UK, US and Middle East,” he added.

Mr O’Sullivan also noted that services firms have continued hiring for 40 straight months and that respondents remain bullish about their prospects.


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