Bank of Ireland have today released their latest Economic Pulse which shows drops in November with consumer and business confidence down.
The Bank of Ireland Economic Pulse survey is conducted in conjunction with the European Commission with the data gathered by the bank feeding into the EU Commission’s Joint Harmonised EU Programme of Business and Consumer Surveys, a Europe-wide sentiment study running since the 1960s.
The Economic Pulse surveys are conducted by Ipsos MRBI on behalf of Bank of Ireland with 1,000 households and over 2,000 businesses on a range of topics including the economy, their financial situation, spending plans, house price expectations and business activity.
The data shows a broad based softening in sentiment this month with both the Consumer and Business Pulses losing ground. Households were more downbeat about the economy and their own financial prospects in November, while firms in all sectors pared back their expectations for near-term business activity.
This month’s Pulse also examined firms’ investment intentions with the results showing that two in five expect to increase their spending on investment in 2017 compared to this year with one in two planning to spend the same amount.
The Business Pulse, which surveyed 2,000 businesses, stood at 85.2 in November, down 9.7 on last month and at a 2016 low. Sentiment was softer across the board, with the outcome of the US election adding to the air of uncertainty post the Brexit vote and contributing to a general paring back of expectations for business activity over the next three months.
All four Sector Pulses fell this month, with retail particularly hard hit and construction also down from last month’s high. The Retail Pulse did see a strong gain in October though while seasonal factors may be at play for the building industry as we head into winter.
This month’s Pulse also examined firms’ investment intentions with the results showing that around half of all businesses intend to focus on replacing and maintaining plant and equipment. Firms in industry are also looking to extend and streamline production capacity while service firms and retailers are planning to invest in new premises and equipment as well as ICT.
A range of factors were mentioned as having an impact on businesses’ investment plans for next year. Demand from customers, financial and technical conditions were generally seen as a positive, whereas the uncertainty the Brexit vote and the outcome of the US election has generated was a negative for many.
Discussing the Economic Pulse, Group Chief Economist at Bank of Ireland, Dr. Loretta O’Sullivan said, "The unsettled external picture is a headwind for many firms, but with domestic activity expanding and other factors providing support, some firms are seeing opportunities as well and this is reflected in their investment plans."
She added, "As noted last month, Ireland is vulnerable to adverse movements in exchange rates. Against the background of a weak and volatile pound, an eye to the cost base and a focus on non-price factors impacting competiveness such as R&D will be important in the period ahead. It is encouraging to see that 35% of the firms in industry that carry out R&D expect their spend in 2017 to be up on this year."