The Central Statistics Office has put Ireland’s unemployment rate at 6.6% for February and predicts the country to be at 6% by mid-year. Full employment is considered to be 5% and the ERSI believes Ireland is on course to achieve this earlier than their initial prediction of 2020.
The PMI for manufacturing dropped to 53.8 in February from a reported 55.5 in January. However export orders are at their strongest growth in 18 months. At the same time, input prices for raw materials are now at their highest in nearly 6 years.
Mercedes have now become the best-selling premium car in Ireland so far this year with sales up a massive 88% on the same period last year. BMW suffered a 25.7% decline. YTD, new car sales overall are down 8%.
Exchequer figures for the first two months of the year show a 4% behind-target result in income tax which came in at €3.1bn. Corporation Tax was 4.7% under target. VAT figures were 8% ahead of profile. Overall exchequer figures show €7.5bn was collected so far this year which is 1.6% ahead of target.
Moody’s rating agency has cut Ireland’s GDP forecast from 3.5% to 3.1% due to the impact of Brexit and the possible changes to US tax policies.
Retails sales released by the Central Statistics Office show an increase of c.5% in the year to January 2017. January alone saw rises of 2.2% mainly in electrical goods and hardware.
There was a 10.5% drop in industrial production in January 2017 when compared to the same month in 2016, and a 3.4% drop in January 2017 when compared to December 2016. It remains to be seen if the drop maintains this trend in the coming months.
Irish manufacturing exports rose sharply during March with ‘twice as many firms’ reporting new export orders. The PMI was 53.6 for March. It was down marginally on February’s 53.8.
Consumer confidence in Ireland during Q4 2016 was at its highest since 2007. The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions reports that Ireland is now the 6th most confident country in Europe. 59% of people are now saving money for a rainy day which is the lowest level since the recession.
Video games produced by Irish companies passed the €1m mark for the first time in 2016. The gaming industry in Ireland is growing in popularity and plenty of Irish titles have been released recently. Irish gaming accounts for just 0.5% of the €240m market in Ireland so it is all to play for in terms of development of the home-grown industry.
Irish SME’s in the services sector are feeling the effects of rising wage costs and fuel costs along with an increase in prices charged by suppliers which in turn is driving up the costs of their overheads. The Services PMI dropped to a five-month low in February to 53.3. Weaker consumer spending was a major factor in the drop.
Inflation is at its highest level in 4 years as the consumer price index shows a basket of goods was 0.5% higher in February when compared to the same month the previous year. There has been a 3.6% increase in transport costs with diesel having rose by 20% in 12 months, and petrol increasing 13.3%. Motor insurance was up 4.6% also.