Category Archives: Irish economic activity

5/1/21: Ireland PMIs: 4Q 2020

Ireland's economic activity improved significantly in December, and the improvements were marked across all three sectors:

  • Ireland's Manufacturing PMI rose 52.2 in November to 57.2 in December, marking the third consecutive month of > 50 readings, the second consecutive month of indicator being statistically above 50.0 line. The last three months average (53.23) is on 2Q 2020 average (53.30) and this is pretty encouraging, given the weakness in the indicator over 1H 2020. 
  • Ireland's Services PMI also rose in December, reaching 50.1 from recessionary 45.4 in November. 4Q average is still weak at 47.9 (contractionary) after being effectively stagnant at 50.03 over 3Q 2020. Monthly increase in December, however, is a brighter spot.
  • Ireland's Construction sector PMI (data through mid-December) is at 53.5, which is strong compared to month prior (48.6) and the first time the index is above 50 line since July 2020. 
  • Official Composite PMI that accounts only for two sectors of activity (Manufacturing and Services) is now at 53.4, having broken above the 50.0 line for the first time since August 2020.

As you know,  I calculate my own index of economic activity based on all three sectors PMIs and using relative weights of each sector in Irish Gross Value Added, based on the latest National Accounts data. This is plotted against Markit's Composite PMI in the following chart:

Just as Composite PMI, my index of economic activity also rose in December (to 52.9) from 48.2 in November. This marks the first month of above-50 readings after 3 consecutive months of contraction. Nonetheless, 4Q 2020 index is at 50.03 - signaling zero growth q/q and this stands contrasted to 3Q 2020 reading of 51.2 (statistically zero growth, nominally, weak positive growth).

3/12/20: Ireland PMIs: November


Ireland PMIs are out for November and they show the impact of the re-amplification of COVID19 impacts on the economy.

Services PMI fell from 48.3 in October to 45.4 in November, the lowest reading in 5 months and the third consecutive monthly reading sub-50. The pandemic period average is now at 39.3.

Meanwhile, Manufacturing PMI rose from 50.3 in October to 52.2 in November, marking the second consecutive month of readings above 50.0 mark. Pandemic period average is now at 48.2. 

Construction sector PMI (through mid-November) is at 48.6 - marking third consecutive month of sub-50 readings.

As the chart below illustrates, Manufacturing is the only sector that is providing growth momentum in the economy and much of that is down to multinationals. In services sector, activity of multinationals (which are doing well) is more than offset by continued declines in activities of domestic enterprises. 

Composite PMI posted a third consecutive month of sub-50 readings at 47.7 down from 49.0 in October. Markit's Composite PMI is calculated based on manufacturing and services indices. To rebalance the overall activity measure to include construction PMIs, I calculate my own 3-sectors index which is based on each sector contribution to Ireland's gross value added. With economic activity shifting toward manufacturing during the Covid19 pandemic, this index is becoming more weighted to reflect manufacturing sector PMI, hence the 3-sectors index rose in November to 50.2 from 49.7 in October.

Overall, the PMIs and my 3-sectors index are all pointing to entrenchment of the Covid19 pandemic headwinds in the Irish economic activity in November. 

3/11/20: Ireland PMIs and Economic Activity Dynamics for October

October PMI data for Ireland is showing serious strains from the pandemic and wave 2 on the economic activity: 

  • Manufacturing PMI for October came at a recessionary 48.3, marking a moderation on rapid contraction in the sector activity in September (45.8). This marks the second consecutive month of the Manufacturing PMI reading sub-50, and follows two months of partial (at best) recovery in July and August.
  • Services sector PMI for October was at 50.3 - a statistically indifferent reading from zero growth 50.0 recorded in September.
  • Official Composite PMI was at 49.0 in October, up on 46.9 in September, but still marking a decline in economic activity for the second month in a row. 
  • Since Construction sector PMI is not published until mid-month, we only have September reading for the sector. Based on this, my three-sectors activity indicator that weighs all three sectors based on their contribution to the gross value added has rise to 49.05 from 47.48 in September:

Overall, all PMIs point to a significant weakness in the economy in September continuing into October. Keep in mind that PMIs are effectively cumulative: sub-50 reading in September implies a decline in economic activity relative to August. If this is followed by a sub-50 reading in October, the new decline is being signalled is on already diminished September activity.

12/10/20: Ireland PMIs and Economic Activity Dynamics for September


September data on Irish Purchasing Managers Indices is now complete (with Construction sector reporting last), and the signals coming from the data are not pretty:

Services sector activity is back in contraction: September reading of 45.8 shows relatively sharp downward momentum, swinging 6.6 points on August reading. September reading is statistically below 50.0 zero growth line, and below historical mean (55.0).

Manufacturing sector reading is at stagnation 50.0 in September, down from 52.3 in August. Statistically, September reading is below historical average of 51.4.

Construction sector is posting a second consecutive month of contraction at 47.0 in September. The reading is statistically below both the historical mean and the median, as well as below 50.0 zero growth line.

This means that official composite PMI (which does not include Construction sector index) is now at 46.9, statistically signalling economic contraction. September index is statistically below index median, although it is statistically indistinguishable for the historical average (which, owing to massive volatility in recent months sits at 49.8).

Chart above shows my own 3-Sectors Index of economic activity, integrating Manufacturing, Services and Construction sectors PMIs, weighted by their relative contributions to Gross Value Added. 3 Sectors Index has fallen from 52.1 in August to 47.5 in September. August reading by itself was not impressive: it was statistically below the historical average and the median, and was barely statistically significantly above 50.0 zero growth line. September reading is very poor, indicating a return of recessionary dynamics in the Irish economy in a critical month of September that normally marks strong growth month for the economy.

9/8/20: Ireland PMIs and Economic Activity Dynamics for August

Ireland's PMIs are signalling a cautious recovery in the growth dynamics across three sectors, with growth still underperforming historical averages.

Irish Services Sector PMI rose to a respectable 52.4 in August from 51.9 in July, with the latest index reading sitting 38.5 points above April 2020 COVID-19 pandemic lows. However, statistically, the index remains below historical average of 55.0 and the median of 56.8. In other words, second month post-contraction phase of the pandemic, Irish services sectors are still struggling to restore growth (not levels) in activity consistent with a robust recovery.

Irish Manufacturing Sector PMI fell to 52.3 in August from July's 57.3 reading. The series are generally more subdued than Services PMI, which means that August reading is statistically indistinguishable from the historical average of 51.5 and is bang-on the median of 52.31. Manufacturing activity swung 16.3 points between COVID19 trough and August reading. Overall, Manufacturing growth seems to have fallen off the post-COVID19 high.

Irish official Composite (two sectors) PMI is currently at 54.0 which is statistically at the historically median rate of growth. The series are too short to talk about averages and historical comparatives in any serious terms. 

Irish Construction Sector PMI (not included in the official Composite PMI) came in at 52.3 in August, up from 51.9 in July and 48.7 points above the COVID19 trough in April. Current reading is statistically above the historical average, but identical to the historical median. This suggests that much of the rebound can be down to seasonal and cyclical volatility, as opposed to thee genuine recovery. 

Here is a summary chart of the three sectors dynamics:

I compute my own GVA-shares-weighted 3-sectors Activity Index, using all three sectoral PMIs reported by IHS Markit. The 3-Sectors Activity Index currently sits at 52.4, down from 54.1 in July and up 30.1 points on COVID19 trough. The current growth in economic activity in Ireland is statistically below historical average, and historical median. And it has moderated from July high, suggesting that the economy is still struggling to recover levels of activity lost to the COVID19 pandemic.