Ulster Bank PMI report for Oct 2023

Fastest decline in new orders since January.

Key findings

  • Further solid reduction in business activity 
  • Softest pace of job creation in ten months 
  • Output prices up slightly, despite faster input cost inflation 


The start of the final quarter of the year saw a further drop in business activity in the Northern Ireland private sector. New orders declined at a faster pace despite efforts by firms to limit hikes in selling prices. Meanwhile, the rate of job creation continued to moderate. The headline seasonally adjusted Business Activity Index rose to 46.6 in October from 45.9 in September, but still signalled a drop in output for the fourth successive month. Although softer than in the previous survey period, the rate of contraction was still solid. Output decreased across all four monitored sectors. Panellists reported that higher interest rates and a lack of government at Stormont had impacted negatively on both business activity and new orders in October. New orders decreased solidly, and to the greatest extent since January. Companies continued to take on additional staff, but the rate of job creation eased to the weakest in the year-to-date and was only slight. The rate of input price inflation quickened to a five-month high amid rising fuel and wage costs. The extent to which firms were able to pass higher costs through to customers was limited by demand weakness, however. As a result, output prices increased only slightly and at the slowest pace in just over three years. Rising charges in services and construction contrasted with reductions in manufacturing and retail. Political stalemate and weak demand, particularly in the construction market, meant that business confidence eased to a nine-month low in October. Some firms remained hopeful that demand will recover over the coming year, however.


Please see the report in full:


Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI (PDF, 393KB)

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