Growth in Irish services slowed to a three-month low in February, falling just below the 12-month average, as new export orders and backlogs of work expanded at a slower pace.
The Investec Services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) slipped to 57.2 in February from 59.8 in January, a survey showed on Monday.
The index average for the last 12 months was 58.6, and has remained above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction since August 2012, when Ireland was halfway through a three-year financial bailout.
Growth in new export business registered its second-lowest pace in 15 months, but almost twice as many of the managers polled still expected higher new export orders than expected a contraction.
The backlogs of work subindex rose but saw its lowest growth rate in three months.
Overall growth in services reflected new domestic orders, better economic conditions, improved sentiment and a favourable exchange rate, the survey's authors said.
Business confidence strengthened to a five-month high, with 51% of the panel, comprising around 450 Irish service companies, predicting a rise in activity over the coming year.
"Given the improving global economic backdrop, we think that this optimism is well-placed," Investec Ireland chief economist Philip O'Sullivan said. (Reuters)