My recent comment on the Biden Administration early successes for the Euromoney: https://www.euromoneycountryrisk.com/article/b1rqlvl15wr2mw/special-country-risk-survey-us-investor-confidence-is-returning-under-biden?LS=Adestra2055255%E2%80%A6
Both inflationary pressures and economic activity indicators are going through the roof in May, signaling a roaring run for 2Q 2021 growth.
- Manufacturing PMI for Ireland is up at 64.1 in May, compared to 60.8 in April. This is a historical high for the series, for the second month in a row.
- Services PMI for Ireland moved up from April's 57.7 to May reading of 62.1. This marks third consecutive month of above 50 readings, with all of these being statistically above 50.0 line.
- Construction Sector PMI (data through mid-May) improved, but remains (at 49.3) still in the contracting activity territory.
- Markit's Composite PMI, based on Manufacturing and Services sectors activity indices, rose from 58.1 in April 2021 to 63.5 in May, setting a new all time high. Again, this is the third consecutive month of above 50.0 readings for the Composite PMI.
In line with robust economic growth, we are witnessing - just as is the case around the world - continued build up of inflationary pressures. Per Markit release: "Input price inflation accelerated for the fifth successive month in May, reaching the highest since July 2008. Manufacturers continued to see much steeper increases in input prices than service providers, although the differential narrowed in the latest period. Companies passed on higher costs to customers, with output prices increasing at a record pace in May (since September 2002)." Emphasis is mine.
Ireland's PMIs have accelerated across all two key sectors of Services and Manufacturing in April, while Construction Sector continued to post declining activity (through mid-April).
Irish Manufacturing PMI rose from 57.1 in March to 60.8 in April as larger multinationals boosted their activities and increased pass-through for inflation. This marks third consecutive month of increasing PMIs for the sector. Meanwhile, Irish Services PMI rose from 54.6 in March to 57.7 in April, marking second consecutive month of above 50 PMIs readings.
In line with the above developments, official Composite PMI rose from 54.5 in March to 58.1 in April.
Irish Construction Sector PMI, reported mid-month, was at 30.9 (significantly below 50.0, signaling strong rate of contraction in activity) in mid-April, a somewhat less rapid rate of decline relative to mid-March reading of 27.0. All in, Irish Construction Sector PMI has been sub-50 for four consecutive month now.
In contrast to Markit that publishes official Composite PMI, I calculate my own GVO-shares weighted index of economic activity across three sectors: my Three Sectors Index rose from 55.0 in March 2021 to 58.3 in April.
In terms of inflation, Services PMI release states that "Cost pressures remained strong in April, linked by survey respondents to labour, insurance, fuel, shipping and UK customs. The rate of input price inflation eased slightly from March's 13-month high, however. To protect profit margins, service providers raised their charges for the second month running. The rate of charge inflation was the strongest since February 2020, albeit modest overall." The indications are that Irish services firms are operating in less competitive environment than their global counterparts, with stronger ability to pass through cost increases into their charges. However, this feature of Irish data most likely reflects the accounting complexity within major multinationals trading through Ireland.
Similar situation is developing in Manufacturing: "Supply chains remain under severe pressure, with longer delivery times owing to new UK Customs arrangements, transport delays and raw materials shortages. These factors, combined with strengthening demand, are leading to a heightening of inflationary pressures. Input prices increased at their fastest pace in ten years, while output prices rose at a series-record pace."
All in, we are witnessing signs of continued inflationary pressures across a number of months now, with even multinationals - companies using Ireland as primarily a tax and regulatory arbitrage location for their activities - feeling the pressures. This is an indication that inflation is building up globally and, as time drags on, starting to feed through to final prices of goods and services.
Ireland PMIs for 1Q 2021 are out this week, so let's take a closer look at monthly activity data.
- March services PMI came in at a surprising 54.6 - up on 41.2 in February and 36.2 in January. Given the country is in a phase 5 lockdown, and there has been little change on that in recent months, the new reading is a bizarre one. Per Markit: "Three out of four monitored sub-sectors registered higher business activity in March. The strongest rate of expansion was in Financial Services, followed by Business Services and Technology, Media & Telecoms respectively. Activity in Transport, Tourism & Leisure declined for the eighth month running, but at the slowest rate since last August." A lot of hope-for vaccines and 'getting back to normal' as well as exports rise behind these figures. Services PMI is now at its highest reading since February 2020.
- March Manufacturing PMI also performed well, rising to 57.1 from 52.0 in February. Manufacturing index has been more volatile in the pandemic than Services, so this rise is less of a surprise, given the global economic recovery and demand for Irish exports.
- We do not have full March data for construction sector PMI, which is reported mid-month, so all we do have is mid-March reading of 27.0.