Category Archives: Irish manufacturing PMI

4/3/16: Irish PMIs for January: Growth Is Up at Year Start

Irish Manufacturing and Services PMIs for January were published earlier this week and are worth looking into as a signal for the underlying economic activities at the start of 1Q 2016.

Irish Manufacturing PMIs rose for the second month in a row in January, reaching 54.3 from 54.2 in December. This is the highest level of activity since July 2015 and confirms some reversal of PMIs dynamics from slower growth recorded from August 2015 through November. Of course, when we are talking about ‘slower growth’ we are talking about still very high rates of expansion as singled by PMI. 3mo average through January 2016 is at blistering 53.9, which is up on scorching 53.7 3mo average through October 2015 and down on scorching 56.1 3mo average through January 2015. These telephone numbers compare extremely well against the historical average of 51.0 and even post-crisis average of 53.0.

Per Markit: “Business conditions in the Irish manufacturing sector improved solidly at the start of 2016, as had been the case at the end of 2015. A sharp and accelerated expansion in new orders was the key driver of strengthening conditions, with output and employment also continuing to rise. Lower raw material costs led to the sharpest fall in input prices in three months, while output charges decreased for the first time since last October… The health of the sector has now strengthened in each of the past 32 months.

Notably, per Markit: “The decrease in output prices ended a two-month sequence of inflation” which is suggesting that Irish producers are now contributing to downward pressures in Euro area markets.

Meanwhile, Irish Services PMI also rose robustly in January, reaching 64.0 against 61.8 in December 2015. Again, these are unbelievably strong  numbers that raise some serious questions about the survey methodologies and/or coverage, but more on this later. 3mo average Services PMI for Ireland was at 61.5 in 3 months through October 2015 and rose to 63.1 in 3mo period through January 2016, up on already unbelievable 62.2 for the 3 months through January 2015. Historical average of 54.9 - again, extremely strong by any measure - is in the dust.

Per Markit, Services PMI “signalled the sharpest expansion in services output since June 2006. Activity has now risen in each of the past 42 months. Companies expect further improvements in economic conditions over the coming 12 months to lead to growth of activity. Business sentiment picked up slightly at the start of 2016. The rate of expansion in new business also quickened in January, and was the joint-fastest since August 2000. New orders have risen continuously throughout the past three-and-a-half years. As has been the case throughout the past four-and-a-half years, new export business rose in January. Moreover, the rate of expansion accelerated from that seen in December. … Consequently, employment rose at a substantial pace during January and one that was sharper than seen in the previous month. A further sharp rise in input costs was recorded in January, as the effect of higher wages and salaries outweighed the downwards impact of lower fuel costs. The rate of inflation across the service sector ticked up marginally, remaining above the series average.”

As per chart above, both Services and Manufacturing sectors are now in a massive expansion, with rates of growth in the underlying activity well in excess of those historically anchored in the pre-crisis period. Services divergence toward higher growth is still being contrasted by lagging growth in Manufacturing, but signs of possible catching up in Manufacturing to the upside are also present.

Per chart above, we can confirm new growth trend in Services and the potential for sustained growth acceleration in Manufacturing (albeit no new trend yet).

Per chart above, both sectors of the Irish economy are operating at the margins of economy’s potential (judging by historical trends). This is hard to interpret as an organic shift in potential rates of growth, so most likely, we are going to witness some growth moderation in months ahead.

Still, current performance raises serious questions as to where this data is coming from. It has long been suspicion of this author that the surveys dynamics have been driven by multinational enterprises operating in both sectors. We have no confirmation of this nor denial of this from Markit and we do not know the quality of their coverage across two sectors. However, one has to be aware of the simple fact - as shown on this blog in the past, survey results have been (in the past) deeply out of line with actual underlying activity registered in the sectors. Currently, both Services and Manufacturing indices are running fairly closely correlated with the reported activity in these sectors, but past low correlations with GDP and GNP and sectoral value added metrics suggests that the survey base can be skewed in favour of unweighting MNCs.

6/1/16: Irish Manufacturing, Services & Construction PMIs: 4Q 2015

Time to update Irish quarterly PMI readings for 4Q 2015. Please note: the following refer to average PMI readings per quarter as supplied by Markit.

Irish Manufacturing PMI averaged 53.7 in 4Q 2015, down slightly on 54.7 in 3Q 2015 and the lowest quarterly reading since 4Q 2013 (jointly tied for that honour with 1Q 2014). The quarterly average has now declined in every quarter since the period peak in 4Q 2014.  Still, at 53.7 we have rather solid growth signal as is. On y/y basis, Manufacturing PMI is now down 5.1% after falling 2.6% in 3Q 2015 and rising 0.7% in 2Q 2015. 4Q 2015 marks tenth consecutive quarter of above 50.0 readings for the sector, with all of these readings being statistically above 50.0 as well. The trend in growth is down.

Irish Services PMI slipped from 62.6 in 3Q 2015 to 61.8 in 4Q 2015, down 1.3% q/q after posting a 1.4% rise q/q in 3Q 2015. On annual basis, the PMI fell 0.11% having previously risen 0.91% in 3Q 2015 and falling 0.48% in 2Q 2015. This marks 20th consecutive quarter of above 50.0 readings in the sector. In level terms, 61.8 signals robust growth in the sector, so it is a positive signal, albeit over time consistent with quite a bit of volatility and no strongly defined trend.

Irish Construction sector PMI (through November 2015) for 4Q 2015 stood at 55.9, down from, 57.1 in 3Q 2015 and marking the second consecutive quarter of index declines. Q/Q index was down 7.95% in 3Q 2015 and it was also down 2.16% in 4Q 2015. Y/Y, index was up 1.42% in 2Q 2015, down 7.6% in 3Q 2015 and down 12.4% in 4Q 2015. Volatile movements in the series still indicate downward trend in growth in the sector.

Chart above summarises the sub-trends, with Services trending very sluggishly up, while Manufacturing and Construction trending down.

As shown in the chart above, my estimated Composite measure, relating to PMIs (using sectoral weights in quarterly GDP figures) posted moderation in growth rate in 4Q 2015.  Composite Index including construction sector stood at 54.4 in 4Q 2015, down from 55.5 in 3Q 2015, hitting the lowest reading since 3Q 2013. This marks second consecutive quarter of declining Composite Index. Index is now down 1.9% q/q having previously fallen 3.8% q/q in 3Q 2015. In y/y terms, Composite Index was up 0.8% y/y in 2Q 2015, down 3.5% y/y in 3Q 2015 and down 6.52% y/y in 4Q 2015. While levels of Index suggest relatively robust growth in the economy across three key sectors, there is a downward trend in the growth rate over time.

So in the nutshell, Irish PMIs continue to signal robust growth, albeit the rate of growth appears to be slowing down along the new sub-trend present from 1Q 2015 on.

Two charts to highlight relationship between PMI signals and GDP and GNP growth rates (data through 3Q 2015).

3/12/15: Irish Services & Manufacturing PMIs: November 2015

Markit released Irish PMIs for November. Here are the highlights:

Services Sector PMI for Ireland stood at 63.6 in November - a significant uplift on October 60.1 reading and the highest reading since September 2006. 3mo average through August 2015 stands at 62.9 while 3mo average through November 2015 is at 62.0. Irish Services sector activity has now been running PMIs above 60.0 (signalling an exceptionally high levels of growth) every month since February 2014. Which, basically, makes these numbers either unbelievable or reflective of heavy biases toward MNCs-led activities in the survey. Not that Markit seems to be concerned and certainly not its paying partners in releasing the survey - Investec.

Manufacturing Sector PMI for Ireland moderated marginally to 53.3 in November from 53.6 in October, pushing 3 mo average through November to 53.6 which is somewhat lower than 55.0 recorded over 3 months through August 2015 and 56.2 3mo average through November 2014.

As the chart below shows, Services and Manufacturing PMIs have both continued to signal strong growth in the economy, albeit the trends in two series have now diverged, starting around February 2015 when Manufacturing PMI trend turned toward toward signalling shallower rates of growth, while Services PMI trend turned more volatile and onto a relatively moderate upward path.

4/11/15: Irish Services & Manufacturing PMIs: October

Irish manufacturing and services PMIs have been released by Markit, covering October.

On Manufacturing PMI side, there has been some improvement in growth conditions in the manufacturing sector, with faster growth in new business, offset by softer production growth. IrishManufacturing PMI posted a reading of 53.6 in October, down marginally on 53.8 in September. Per Markit: “Business conditions have now strengthened in each of the past 29 months. The rate of expansion in manufacturing production continued to ease in October, the third successive month in which a slowdown has been recorded. The latest rise was the weakest since February 2014, but higher sales, in a number of cases from export markets, supported continued output growth.” In other words, MNCs activity is once again the suspect key driver for continued growth in the sector, not that Markit would say so outright.

On a 3mo average basis, 3mo average for the period through October stood at 56.1 - a hefty rise on the 3mo average through July 2015 that registered 53.7 and almost in line with 56.5 3mo average through October 2014. Over the last 6 months through October, the index average was down 1.5 points on the 6mo average through April 2015.

Meanwhile, on Services PMI side, October marked another month of rapid growth, although the rate of growth eased somewhat from dizzying highs of September. October Services PMI stood at a hefty 60.1, down on jaw-breaking 62.4 reading in September 2015. On a 3mo average basis, 3mo average through October 2015 was 62.7, up on 3mo average through July 2015 (61.5) and above the 3mo average through October 2014 (61.2).

Per Markit: “Although [October reading] signalled the weakest expansion in activity since February 2014, the rate of growth remained elevated as higher new business continued to lead to rising output.
Business sentiment remained strongly positive, with panellists predicting that new orders would continue to increase over the coming year, leading to further growth of activity. Improvements in wider economic conditions were also mentioned by those panellists forecasting higher output. That said, sentiment dipped to the weakest since August 2014. The rate of growth in new business eased further in October and was the weakest since March.”

As chart above shows, both services and manufacturing sectors continue to perform well ahead of historical comparatives, but on-trend in terms of growth balancing between two sectors. “Excess’ growth in Manufacturing, evident in October 2013 and 2014 data has eased, while accompanying moderation in growth in Services was somewhat weaker. Again, all indications are - exporting sectors are driving growth, dominated by MNCs, though domestic internal demand is also supporting expansion.

7/10/15: Irish economic Activity & PMIs: 3Q 2015

Irish quarterly PMIs for 3Q 2015 posted a marginal improvement in growth conditions compared to 2Q 2015, further strengthening on the already fast pace of economic activity expansion. This overall momentum was driven solely by gains in growth momentum in Services sectors.

Manufacturing PMI averaged 55.2 in 3Q 2015, down marginally on 55.8 in 2Q 2015 and marking the slowest pace of activity expansion since 1Q 2014. 3Q marks second consecutive growth of weakening PMIs. Still, current running rate signals strong growth in the sector.

Services PMI posted a reading of 62.8 in 3Q 2015, up on already high reading of 61.8 in 2Q 2015. This is the highest reading since 2Q 2006 and marks second consecutive quarter of increases in the index. Overall activity signal from the 3Q PMI averages is for an outright boom in the sector.

Construction PMIs (with data only for July-August) fell in 3Q 2015 to 59.1 from 2Q 2015 reading of 62.1. Nonetheless, growth, as singled by PMI, remained robust in 3Q 2015.

Overall, PMIs continue to signal robust rates of economic activity growth in the Irish economy over the course of 3Q 2015. 

Usual caveats, however, apply to interpreting the links between PMIs and actual production and value added in the sectors. Historically Irish Manufacturing and Services PMIs exhibit statistically insignificant correlation with real activity in both sectors, as well as GDP and GNP growth. At the very best, Services PMI data is capable of explaining at most around 11 percent of total variation in GDP, while at the worst, Manufacturing PMI explains at most 5.6 percent of total variation in GNP.