Ulster Bank PMI report for March 2024

Output rises at strongest pace in over two years.

Key findings

  • Northern Ireland leads UK in terms of new order growth
  • Near-record business confidence
  • Inflationary pressures strengthen


Northern Ireland posted strong and accelerated increases in output and new orders during March, and were at their most optimistic regarding the future for almost six years. The rate of job creation also picked up. Meanwhile, sharper increases in input costs and selling prices, plus supplier delivery delays were recorded. The headline seasonally adjusted Business Activity Index posted 56.6 in March, up sharply from 53.6 in February and pointing to a marked monthly expansion of business activity. Moreover, the rate of growth was the fastest since February 2022. The rise in Northern Ireland was much faster than the UK average. All four monitored sectors posted increases in activity, with the sharpest expansions in the manufacturing and services categories. Output growth reflected success in securing new orders amid an improving demand environment. New business increased for the third month running in March, and to the greatest extent in just over two years. Some panellists reported that previously delayed projects had commenced. The rise in new orders in Northern Ireland was the sharpest of the 12 monitored UK regions and nations. Business confidence rose to a near six-year high and was the second-strongest since the series began in March 2017. Meanwhile, firms continued to expand staffing levels, with the rate of job creation the sharpest in seven months. Accelerated increases in both input costs and output prices were recorded in March, often linked to higher wage pressures. Meanwhile, Red Sea disruption caused a further lengthening of supplier lead times.


Please see the regional report in full:


Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI (PDF, 1,321KB)

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