Page last updated at 08:56 GMT, Monday, 10 August 2009 09:56 UK

NI misses out on business upturn

NI was the only region not to record an upturn in business activity

Northern Ireland was the only region in the UK not to record an upturn in business activity last month.

The latest Ulster Bank Northern Ireland Purchase Managers Index showed output and new business levels both fell.

Business activity in the private sector fell for the 20th month running in July, although the decline was the slowest since May 2008.

Ulster Bank economist Richard Ramsey said over one third of firms reported a decline in incoming business.

He said the "expected recovery" would be weak, with new orders continuing to fall and that the decrease in fresh orders was "most intense within the services sector".

"Unlike their UK counterparts, Northern Ireland firms continue to experience an increase in cost pressures for the fifth month in a row," he added.

"Meanwhile, the lack of demand continues to weaken the pricing power of Northern Ireland's firms, which in light of the rising cost base is squeezing profit levels.

"The pressure on these profit margins remains particularly severe within the construction sector.

"As a result, the construction industry continues to bear the brunt of employment losses.

"Outside of construction, the other broad sectors of the economy reported a further lowering of workforce numbers."

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